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11 May 2009

Job loss bad for your health

Losing a job not only leads to financial hardships, but can lead to a range of health problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, according to new research.

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Losing a job not only leads to financial hardships, but can lead to a range of health problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, according to new research.

"In today's economy, job loss can happen to anybody," said Kate Strully, who conducted the research as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation scholar at the Harvard School of Public Health. "We need to be aware of the health consequences of losing our jobs, and do what we can to alleviate the negatsive effects."

Strully analysed US data on a wide range of occupations, such as managerial and professional positions, sales, clerical and craft jobs, machine operator jobs, and service positions.

Increased risk of getting sick
Among white or blue collar workers who lost a job through workplace closure, the likelihood of reporting fair or poor health increased by 54 percent, she found. And the odds of developing a new health condition rose by 83 percent among those who had no pre-existing health problems.

Even when these workers found new jobs, they still had an increased risk of new stress-related health problems, the analysis found.

White collar workers remain healthy
Differences were detected between blue collar and white collar workers who'd been fired, laid off or voluntarily left a job. Job loss more than doubled the likelihood of reporting fair or poor health among blue collar workers, but it had no effect on the health status of white collar workers. The study, which appeared in a recent issue of Demography, did not determine the reasons for this difference.

"As we consider ways to improve health in America during a time of economic recession and rising unemployment, it is critical that we look beyond health-care reform to understand the tremendous impact that factors like job loss have on our health," said David R. Williams, staff director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America and a Harvard professor.

"Where and how we live, work, learn and play have a greater impact on how healthy we are than the health care we receive," Williams said. – (HealthDay News, May 2009)

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