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February/March 2014 (vol. 10/5)

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Research Plus

Feeling poorly predicts employment exit

A systematic review of 44 studies finds that a perception of being in poor health is predictive of becoming unemployed, retiring early or going on disability benefits. Self-perceived poor health is a significant risk factor of leaving work through: unemployment in 14 out of 17 studies (pooled relative risk (RR) = 1.44; CI 1.26–1.65); disability pension in 13 out of 13 studies (RR = 3.61; CI 2.44–5.35); and early retirement in six out of nine studies (RR = 1.27; CI 1.17–1.38). The estimated population attributable fractions (ie the proportion leaving the labour market due to self-perceived poor health) are 36.9%, 7.0% and 4.7%, respectively for disability pension, unemployment and early retirement. Workers with mental health problems are at increased risk of leaving through unemployment (RR = 1.61; CI 1.29–2.01) and disability pension (RR = 1.80; CI 1.41–2.31). No studies reported on possible associations between mental health and exiting via early retirement.

Influence of poor health on exit from paid employment: a systematic review. Occupational Environmental Medicine 2013; online first; doi: 10.1136/oemed-2013-101591


Occupational Health at Work February/March 2014 (vol. 10/5) pp40