Job Losses Have Negative Effect on Health, Study Finds
Workers who lost their job through no fault of their own were twice as likely as continuously employed workers to report over the next 18 months that they developed a new illness, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease, according to a study released last week, the New York Times reports.
Kate Strully, an assistant professor of sociology at the State University of New York at Albany, analyzed detailed employment and health data from 8,125 workers surveyed in 1999, 2001 and 2003 by the Panel Study of Income Dynamics at the University of Michigan. According to Strully, because the workers lost jobs for reasons unrelated to their health, the conditions they developed do not indicate a prior condition. The study found only 6% of people with steady jobs developed a new health condition during each survey period of about a year and a half, but 10% of workers who had lost their job developed conditions during the same period. According to the study, whether the laid-off workers found new employment or stayed unemployed, they still had a one in 10 chance of developing a new health issue.
David Williams, director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission To Build a Healthier America and a Harvard School of Public Health professor, said losing a job can cause "changes in physiological function in multiple ways, and it can lead to alterations in health behavior" (Rabin, New York Times, 5/9).
In related news, new polls suggest the economic recession is having an impact on women's health, U.S. News & World Report/Orlando Sentinel reports. According to a Gallup survey of 1,031 women ages 18 to 44 conducted for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 15% of women reported they have stopped taking some medications because of the cost, and one in seven women postponed an annual ob-gyn checkup for economic reasons.
A separate survey released last week by the American Psychiatric Association found that more than half of U.S. women said the current economic recession has had a negative effect on their mental health. However, the survey also found that more than 75% of respondents were participating in more positive activities than they were six months prior, including spending time with family and friends, attending religious services, exercising or listening to music (Kotz, U.S. News & World Report/Orlando Sentinel, 5/10). The Gallup poll can be found online (.pdf).