Unemployment Doesn't Hurt Just Your Wallet

The unemployed have health problems more often and for longer than the employed

(RxWiki News) According to a new research, those who are unemployed have more health problems than those who are still employed.

The study reveals that the unemployed suffer more frequently and longer from both physical and emotional issues, compared to those who are employed.

Using data from the GEDA study (Gesundheit in Deutschland Aktuell, or Current Health in Germany), Lars E. Kroll and Thomas Lampert analyzed the relationship between unemployment and health. They found that unemployed individuals 30 to 59 years of age were more likely than employed individuals to be affected by physical, emotional, and functional health problems such as sleep disorders, anxiety disorders, and drug addictions. Consequently, the unemployed use the health care system more often than the employed.

The authors add that people with limited social support are likely to suffer from similar problems, regardless of their employment status.

Past studies have shown that the health consequences of unemployment can be reduced by social support. According to this study, the health problems of the unemployment appear to be caused by a lack of social support and the stress associated with a loss of income and social reputation.

Kroll and Lampert conclude their article by urging doctors to encourage their patients to participate in non-work-related social activities. The authors acknowledge that increasing social support for jobless men and women will not fix the core problem of unemployment. However, taking measures to alleviate some of the stress of unemployment could help minimize unemployment's impact on public health.

Unemployment in the United States is currently hovering around 9 percent. Although the unemployment rate has decreased slightly over that last couple months, it will remain a problem for some time. As such, the health consequences associated with unemployment should be on the minds of policy makers and health professionals (and the unemployed).

The study appears in Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, the official science journal of the German Medical Association.

Review Date: 
February 7, 2011