Developing an evidence base on sex/gender differences in the relationship between working conditions and injury risk, chronic illnesses and return to work

Reasons for the study

Male and female labour force participation rates in Canada have changed dramatically over the last three decades. The percentage of labour force participants who are female increased from 39 per cent to 48 per cent between 1980 and 2011. Although women now make up nearly half of labour force participants, much of what we know about the relationship between working conditions and health is based on measures developed on men and frameworks tested in male-dominated workplaces. However, there may be important male and female differences in the biological and behavioural reactions to working conditions and job hazards, and the relationship between these conditions/hazards and risk of subsequent injury and disease and rates of recovery and return to work in the wake of injury and disease.

This project generated new research in three areas where significant gaps in knowledge exist concerning the work and health experiences of men and women: (1) the psychosocial work environment (including job control, psychological demands and social support) and the development of hypertension and diabetes among men and women; (2) gender and sex differences in work-related risk factors for occupational and non-occupational injury and disease (including stress); and (3) individual, workplace and health-care provider factors leading to differences in the return-to-work outcomes after work-related injury among men and women.

Objectives of the study

  • To create a more nuanced understanding of how sex/gender shape injury risk, the relationship between the work environment and chronic illnesses, and time off work after a work-related injury
  • To help shape the development of gender- and sex-sensitive policies and practices to improve the health of all working Canadians
  • To examine gender/sex differences in the association between dimensions of the psychosocial work environment and the development of various health conditions, including stress, diabetes and cardiovascular disease (see separate project page under this umbrella on the relationship between prolonged standing and heart disease)

Related scientific publications

Related interviews and articles

Related research summaries

Project status

Completed 2018

Research team

  • Peter Smith, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
  • Cameron Mustard, Institute for Work & Health
  • Chantal Brisson, Université Laval
  • Rick Glazier, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences

Participating organizations

Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

Funded by

Canadian Institutes of Health Research