An international team of researchers analysed data from more than 7,000 workers and, even allowing for other risk factors such as smoking and being overweight, discovered that work-related stress raises the risk of developing asthma.
“This study has shown for the first time that perceived job insecurity during the recent economic crisis may increase the risk of new-onset asthma in adulthood,” states the paper, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
The research was conducted by experts at the University of Düsseldorf, the University of Amsterdam, and Massey University in New Zealand.
It supports previous studies pointing to a link between the development of asthma and stress, according to researchers. The use of temporary contracts and other “flexible forms of contracting” as well as downsizing, are cited as factors which “increase job insecurity among employees”.
The study adds: “The economic crisis in Europe, which started in 2008, has accelerated this development and has been paralleled by increased perceptions of job insecurity in most European Union countries.”
Those with “high job insecurity” had a “roughly 60 per cent excess risk of asthma” compared with those who thought the chances of losing their job were low or non-existent.
The findings are based on data from more than 7,000 working adults, who responded to the German Socio-Economic Panel Study, an annual survey of the German population, in 2009 and 2011. Between these years, 105 new cases of asthma were diagnosed among the survey group. Those worried about losing their jobs were far more likely to develop asthma – at 2.12 per cent compared to 1.3 per cent of people who had no such worries or felt the risk was low.
So the implications of this study could include, that when your organisation is experiencing turmoil or change, some people will interpret this as potentially increased job insecurity, and it’s the leaders and managers job to minimise this interpretation.