American Psychological Association
Saturday, October 5, 2002
JOB LOSS AND THE RESULTING FINANCIAL STRAIN CAN LEAD TO DOWNWARD SPIRAL OF DEPRESSION AND POOR HEALTH, SAYS RESEARCH Implications for Helping Unemployed Workers Recover WASHINGTON
Unemployment can start a vicious cycle of depression, loss of personal control, decreased emotional functioning and poorer physical health. according to lead author Richard H. Price, Ph.D., and co-authors Jin Nam Choi, Ph.D., and Amiram D. Vinokur, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan.
The authors came to this conclusion from interviewing 756 recently unemployed job seekers. The subjects had been unemployed for less than 13 weeks, were actively looking for a job and were not expecting to retire within the next two years. Their average age was 36 years old. Forty-one percent were male and 59 percent were female. Seventy-five percent were White, 21 percent were African American and three percent were from other ethnic groups. Fifty-two percent of the sample were married or lived with a romantic partner. Their education varied: 9 percent had not completed high school; 32 percent had completed high school; 36 percent had some college education; 11 percent had completed four years of college and 11 percent had completed more than four years of college.
At the beginning of the study, the participants rated their current and anticipated financial strain, answered questionnaires concerning depression, personal control, health and emotional functioning. They also responded to these questions at six months and then again at two years.
The results show that this chain of adversity (job loss-financial strain-depression-personal control-emotional functioning-physical health) appears to continue over two years, suggesting "that even reversible life events such as job loss can have lasting effects on those who experience them." At the end of two years, 71 percent were re-employed, working at least 20 hours or more per week but still reported the negative effects of their job loss.
These findings suggest that increases in depression and loss of personal control with those who lose their jobs can have adverse affects on health and emotional functioning for longer than the initial triggering event - job loss, possibly interfering with finding another job, said Dr. Price. Professionals working with suddenly unemployed people should be aware of this chain of events and be ready to help these individuals improve their mental health so they better their chances of re-employment and interrupt the downward cycle.
Article: "Links in the Chain of Adversity Following Job Loss: How Financial Strain and Loss of Personal Control Lead to Depression, Impaired Functioning, and Poor Health," Richard H. Price, Ph.D., Jin Nam Choi, Ph.D., and Amiram D. Vinokur, Ph.D., University of Michigan; Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Vol 7, No. 4.
Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office or at http://www.apa.org/journals/ocp/press_releases/october_2002/ocp74302.html
Reporters: Richard H. Price, PhD can be reached by telephone at (734) 763-0446 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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