Job Strain, Insecurity Hurt Health
Job Stress Affect Workers' Mental and Physical Health
Nov. 4, 2003 -- When job stress and insecurity hit, don't be
surprised if your body screams, "I can't work under these
A new study shows working under difficult job conditions can
take its toll on workers' mental and physical health.
Researchers say it's one of the first studies to look at the
impact of the fear of job loss on health and the findings suggest that job
insecurity can have potent health effects, both alone and in combination with
other types of job stress.
"The results of this study raise concerns about the adverse
health effects in people who might be experiencing both high job strain and
high job insecurity," write researcher Rennie M. D'Souza of the National
Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at The Australian National
University, and colleagues. "As the labor market becomes more globalized
and competitive, employees are more likely to encounter these two work
Many Work Under Adverse Conditions
For the study, researchers surveyed 1,188 employee
professionals, aged 40 to 44, in Australia and asked them questions about their
job conditions as well as depression, anxiety, physical and self-rated
They found that adverse working conditions were common among
the workers, and 23% reported high job strain, defined as a combination of high
work demands and low control. Full-timer workers, those in supervisory
positions, and those who worked in large organizations were more likely than
others to experience high levels of job strain.
Nearly one-third of the workers also worried about the threat
of job loss and uncertainty about future employment with 7.3% and 23% reporting
high and moderate job insecurity, respectively. Part-time workers, those who
were self-employed, nonmanagers, and those working in smaller organizations
were more likely to report high job insecurity.
The findings appear in the November issue of the Journal of
Epidemiology and Community Health.
Job Conditions Affect Workers' Health
When researchers looked at how these types of job stress
related to workers' mental and physical health, they found job strain and
insecure employment had a major impact.
Researchers found passive and high-strain jobs were linked to
depression, anxiety, and lower self-reported health. Even after adjusting for
other factors such as gender, marital status, education, employment status, and
major life events, the negative association between job strain and mental
health remained significant.
Job insecurity was strongly associated with all four mental and
physical health measures, regardless of the other risk factors. The effect was
most pronounced on depression and self- reported health.
For example, workers with high job insecurity were four times
as likely to suffer from depression.
Researchers say the results show that more study is needed on
the influence of job stress on workers' health, especially in light of today's
changing global economy.
"The changing nature of work has implications for societies
and for workplaces. Both job strain and insecurity are associated with sickness
absence, which affects productivity," they write.