In developed countries, the vast majority of preventable causes of premature morbidity and mortality in the developed countries are accounted for by behaviour-related health risk factors, such as smoking and physical inactivity. Unemployment, on the other hand, is associated with poorer physical and mental health and elevated risk for premature mortality.
In a study we just published, the authors aimed to examine the patterning of 4 health-risk factors (tobacco smoking, risky alcohol drinking, overweight and physical inactivity) among job seekers. Additionally, they investigated socio-demographic and health-related predictors of patterning of those factors.
This study was based on baseline data of the randomised controlled Trial of Proactive Alcohol Intervention among job-Seekers (TOPAS), conducted between 2008-2009 in 3 job agencies in German. A bit less than 8,000 people contributed study for this analysis (53.4% male).
There was considerable patterning of behaviour-related health risk factors among job-seekers with more similarities than differences between women and men. Three distinct patterns were identified for both genders:
1. Substance use pattern with smoking and risky drinking as main characteristics
2. Unhealthy diet and inactive pattern, with overweight/obesity and lack of physical activity/exercise as key characteristics.
3. Health-conscious pattern with the most preferable distributions of all health risk factors.
Other interesting finding include the following:
– 43% of women and 58% of men had two or more health risk factors
– The substance use pattern was by far the largest class in both genders.
– The health-conscious pattern was the second largest class in women but the smallest class in men.
– Lower education, long-term unemployment and poorer self-rated health were positively associated with belonging to the two “unhealthy” patterns in both genders.
As combined smoking and risky drinking seem to be the most common health threat to job seekers, it might be useful to provide combined interventions for it, as well as for unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.