Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2021;47(7):509-520    pdf full text

doi:10.5271/sjweh.3978

Low-quality employment trajectories and risk of common mental disorders, substance use disorders and suicide attempt: a longitudinal study of the Swedish workforce

by Jonsson J, Muntaner C, Bodin T, Alderling M, Balogh R, Burström B, Davis L, Gunn V, Hemmingsson T, Julià M, Kjellberg K, Kreshpaj B, Orellana C, Padrosa E, Wegman DH, Matilla-Santander N

Objective High-quality longitudinal evidence exploring the mental health risk associated with low-quality employment trajectories is scarce. We therefore aimed to investigate the risk of being diagnosed with common mental disorders, substance use disorders, or suicide attempt according to low-quality employment trajectories.

Methods A longitudinal register-study based on the working population of Sweden (N=2 743 764). Employment trajectories (2005–2009) characterized by employment quality and pattern (constancy, fluctuation, mobility) were created. Hazard ratios (HR) were estimated using Cox proportional hazards regression models for first incidence (2010–2017) diagnosis of common mental disorders, substance use disorders and suicide attempt as dependent on employment trajectories.

Results We identified 21 employment trajectories, 10 of which were low quality (21%). With the exception of constant solo self-employment, there was an increased risk of common mental disorders (HR 1.07–1.62) and substance use disorders (HR 1.05–2.19) for all low-quality trajectories. Constant solo self-employment increased the risk for substance use disorders among women, while it reduced the risk of both disorders for men. Half of the low-quality trajectories were associated with a risk increase of suicide attempt (HR 1.08–1.76).

Conclusions Low-quality employment trajectories represent risk factors for mental disorders and suicide attempt in Sweden, and there might be differential effects according to sex – especially in terms of self-employment. Policies ensuring and maintaining high-quality employment characteristics over time are imperative. Similar prospective studies are needed, also in other contexts, which cover the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the mechanisms linking employment trajectories with mental health.

This article refers to the following texts of the Journal: 2021;47(2):117-126  2020;46(3):235-247  2020;46(3):321-329  2019;45(5):429-443  2016;42(4):346-353  2012;38(6):537-545
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