Scientists from the Institute of Epidemiology II (EPI II) at the Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen (HMGU) in Germany collaborated with the University Hospital of Giessen and Marburg for the study.
The researchers examined data prospectively collected from more than 5,300 employed individuals aged between 29 and 66 who took part in the population-based MONICA/KORA cohort study.
At the beginning of the study, none of the participants had diabetes, while in the post-observation period, which covered an average of 13 years, almost 300 of them were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
The increase in risk in work-related stress was identified independently of classic risk factors such as obesity, age or gender.
"According to our data, roughly one in five people in employment is affected by high levels of mental stress at work," said researcher Professor Karl-Heinz Ladwig, who led the study.
"By that, scientists do not mean 'normal job stress' but rather the situation in which the individuals concerned rate the demands made upon them as very high, and at the same time they have little scope for manoeuvre or for decision making.
"In view of the huge health implications of stress-related disorders, preventive measures to prevent common diseases such as diabetes should therefore also begin at this point," he added.