Worrying about a job can damage health more than loss

Tue Sep 1, 2009 11:59am EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Worrying about the looming threat of unemployment can be more damaging to a person's health than actually being jobless, according to a U.S. study.

With the United States suffering its worst recession since the depression, researchers set out to look at how job insecurity impacted the health of workers.

"This study provides the strongest evidence to date that persistent job insecurity has a negative impact on worker health," said sociologist Sarah Burgard of the University of Michigan Institute of Social Research.

"It may seem surprising that chronically high job insecurity is more strongly linked with health declines than actual job loss or unemployment."

Burgard and her colleagues James House and Jennie Brand, of the University of California, Los Angeles, assessed the impact of job insecurity by analyzing data on 1,700 adults and studies conducted between 1986 and 1989 and from 1995 and 2005.

In one group included in the research published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, they found that chronic job insecurity was a stronger predictor of poor health than either smoking or high blood pressure.


The researchers questioned people about the likelihood of losing their main job in the next couple of years and the chances of holding on to the position.   Continued...

<p>A man looks at job postings at a job fair in New Hampshire in a file photo. REUTERS/Brian Snyder</p>