Changes in health among 45–64-year-old Dutch persons before, during and after becoming unemployed or employed: a seven year follow-up study

David van de Ven, Suzan J.W. Robroek*, Karen M. Oude Hengel, Alex Burdorf, Merel Schuring

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Objectives This study aimed to evaluate the extent to which physical and mental health and body mass index (BMI) changed before, during and after becoming unemployed or employed, and whether these associations differ across psychosocial and physical working conditions. Methods Participants from seven waves (2010–2017) of the Dutch longitudinal Study on Transitions in Employment, Ability, and Motivation (STREAM) aged 45–64 years were included. STREAM provides information on physical and mental health, BMI and working conditions, and was enriched with monthly information on income components from Statistics Netherlands to define employment status during 2010–2017. Annual changes in physical and mental health (0–100 scales), and BMI (kg/m2) before, during and after becoming unemployed (N=13 279) and employed (N=1902) were estimated with generalized linear mixed-effect models. Results Before employed persons became unemployed they had poorer health than continuously employed persons, which worsened in the period before becoming unemployed. During the year of becoming unemployed, physical [b=1.45, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.89–2.01] and mental health (b=1.46, 95% CI 0.85–2.07) improved, in particular among persons with unfavorable working conditions. After becoming unemployed physical health deteriorated (b=-0.52, 95% CI-0.80–-0.24) and BMI (b=0.11, 95% CI 0.03–0.19) increased, but mental health improved (b=0.33, 95% CI 0.02–0.63). Unemployed persons had better health before entering employment than continuously unemployed persons. The health of persons who entered employment did not statistically significantly change before or during the year of the transition. After entering employment, physical health deteriorated and BMI increased. Conclusions Maintaining a healthy workforce and limiting unfavorable working conditions may contribute to the prevention of unemployment and the promotion of re-integration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-292
Number of pages10
JournalScandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study is made possible by the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw); project number 531001403.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, Nordic Association of Occupational Safety and Health. All rights reserved.


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