"In today's economy, job loss can happen to anybody," said Kate Strully, who conducted the research as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society 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 negative effects."

Workers who are in poor health have a 40 percent increase in the odds of being laid off or fired, but Strully's findings go beyond sicker people being more likely to lose their jobs. She finds that "job churning," defined as high rates of job loss but low unemployment, has negative health consequences for workers who were not already sick.

For those who lost their job through no fault of their own, such as an establishment closure, the odds of reporting fair or poor health increased by 54 percent, and among respondents with no pre-existing health conditions, it increased the odds of a new health condition by 83 percent. Even when workers became re-employed, those workers had an increased risk of new stress-related health conditions.

Unlike the results of job loss due to an establishment closure, when health effects were analyzed based on workers who were fired or laid off, significant differences were found based on the workers' occupations. While being fired or laid off or leaving a job voluntarily more than doubles the odds of a fair or poor health report among blue-collar workers, such job displacements have no significant association with the health reports of white-collar workers. The reasons for this disparity are unclear based on the study results.

"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," says David R. Williams, Norman Professor of Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health.

COMPAMED.de; Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars