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The impact of the workplace on health

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 08 August 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f4944
  1. Cary Cooper, distinguished professor of organisational psychology and health1,
  2. Brian Faragher, medical statistician2
  1. 1Lancaster University Management School, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YW, UK
  2. 2Division of Clinical Sciences, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, UK
  1. c.cooper{at}

Job insecurity increases the risk of coronary heart disease

In the continuing battle against coronary heart disease, attention is usually focused on behaviours over which people have direct control, such as regular exercise and diet. However, there are other important risk factors over which people often have little control. High on this list is the potential impact of the workplace on health.

In an extensive study of 174 438 participants followed for almost 10 years, Virtanen and colleagues provide persuasive evidence that one workplace characteristic, job insecurity, increases the risk of coronary heart disease (age adjusted relative risk for high versus low job security 1.32, 95% confidence interval 1.09 to 1.59).1 This paper adds substantially to research reporting a link between job insecurity and adverse health events and negative behaviours,2 3 4 including a recent paper by the same group that identified job strain as a risk factor for coronary heart disease.5

In a meta-analysis of 485 studies of 267 995 people we found a strong correlation between self reported measures of job satisfaction and health.6 Poor job satisfaction was particularly associated with burn out, poor self …

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