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Toen Jos Brosschot op een goede dag ergens in de jaren negentig zijn dochter Tara van het kinderdagverblijf haalde, werd hij opgewacht door leidsters die hem zowel streng en bestraffend, alsook geamuseerd aankeken. Ze hadden die dag de kinderen gevraagd wat hun ouders voor werk deden. Tara had geantwoord: ‘Mijn vader is een dokter en hij maakt mensen… boos.’ Brosschot had wat uit te leggen. Als psychofysioloog maakt hij in zijn onderzoek proefpersonen boos en dus gestrest. Een uitleg van dat onderzoek doet hij in deze bewerking van zijn oratie.

Psychosociale stress, vanaf nu gewoon stress genoemd, maakt steeds meer slachtoffers. De Wereldgezondheidsorganisatie noemde stress zelfs een wereldwijde epidemie.

Volgens verschillende wetenschappelijke bronnen is stress verantwoordelijk voor meer dan de helft van de verloren arbeidsdagen, en is zo’n tweederde van de doktersbezoeken stress-gerelateerd. Als we naar hart- en vaatziekten kijken – in dit verband het meest onderzocht – blijkt dat het kwart meest gestreste mensen een meer dan twee keer zo grote kans op een hartaanval heeft. Deze risico’s zijn vergelijkbaar of zelfs hoger dan die van klassieke risicofactoren zoals roken en zwaarlijvigheid (Cartwright & Cooper, 2011).

Meer specifiek leidt hoge werkstress tot een ongeveer vier keer hogere kans op hart- en vaatziekte (bijv. Bosma et al., 1998)4. Langdurige zorg voor een demente partner verhoogt het risico met een factor twee (Vitaliano et al., 2002)51. Een slecht huwelijk leidt tot zo’n drie keer meer kans op hartproblemen (Orth-Gomer et al., 2000)34. Langdurige angststoornissen gaan zelfs gepaard met

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