MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Professor Tarani Chandola
Cathie Marsh Institute and Social Statistics
University of Manchester
Co-director of the National Centre for Research Methods International Centre for Lifecourse Studies in Society & Health
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: The study examined the common perception that “any job is better than no job” to see whether this was true in terms of chronic stress levels. It followed up a group of unemployed adults representative of adults living in the UK, and compared their health and stress levels in terms of those who remained unemployed and those who became re-employed in poor and good quality work.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Contrary to expectations, those who found work that was of poor quality (low pay, high levels of insecurity and job related stress) had higher levels of chronic stress related biomarkers than those who remained unemployed. Moreover, the levels of self-reported mental health did not differ between these two groups- those who were employed in poor quality work did not have better mental health than adults who remained unemployed. Unsurprisingly, those who found work in good quality jobs had better mental health than those who remained unemployed. Better health was a predictor of getting a job, regardless of whether it was of good or poor quality. So the selection of healthier adults into good and poor quality work could not explain why those who were working in poor quality work had higher levels of chronic stress than those who remained unemployed.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Response: Any job is NOT necessarily better than no job. The success of policies aimed at reducing unemployment need to take account of job quality as a measure of employment success, not just whether the unemployed person was successful in getting a job.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: Job quality is clearly important for health and wellbeing. With new forms of employment conditions such as zero hours contracts increasing which could reduce job security and pay levels, we need research into the impact of such changes in employment conditions on the wellbeing of workers.
Disclosures: The research was funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2017 May 5. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbx058. [Epub ahead of print]
Chandola T1, Rouxel P2, Marmot MG3, Kumari M4.
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