Mental Health Negatively Affected by Poor-Quality Jobs

Mental health of unemployed similar or superior to those with poor psychosocial quality jobs

FRIDAY, March 18 (HealthDay News) -- Gaining employment improves mental health only for jobs of good psychosocial quality; whereas, jobs with poor psychosocial quality may detrimentally affect mental health, according to a study published online March 14 in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Peter Butterworth, Ph.D., from the Australian National University in Canberra, and colleagues compared the effect of unemployment and employment on mental health in jobs with poor psychosocial quality. Data from 7,155 respondents of working age from seven waves of national household panel surveys were assessed. Mental health was evaluated by the five-item mental health inventory.

The investigators found that the mental health of unemployed respondents was worse than of those who were employed, but was comparable or superior to those in jobs of the poorest psychosocial quality. In prospective models, those in the worst quality jobs had a significantly greater decline in their mental health compared with those who were employed. Moving from unemployment to a high-quality job led to improved mental health score, but moving to a poor-quality job had a worse effect on mental health than remaining unemployed.

"This study has shown that work of poor psychosocial quality, characterized by low job control, high job demands and complexity, job insecurity, and the perception of unfair pay does not bestow the same mental health benefits as employment in jobs with high psychosocial quality," the authors write.

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