Written by Hannah Nichols
Original Article published on August 22, 2016 at Medical News Today
According to a 2014 report, most Americans – around 52 percent – were unhappy with their job. Few would suspect, however, that this would have substantial health implications for later in their lives.
A new study conducted at the Ohio State University, by Jonathan Dirlam, a doctoral student in sociology, was set up to investigate the long-term health effects of job satisfaction, or lack of it, earlier in people’s careers.
Together with Hui Zheng, an associate professor of sociology at Ohio State, Dirlam used data from surveys of 6,432 Americans to analyze job satisfaction over a number of years from 1979 onward. The survey was the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY1979), and the participants were between 14-22 years when the research began.
The participants were asked to rate their job satisfaction level from 1 (dislike very much) to 4 (like very much).
The results were then divided into four categories: consistently low job satisfaction (45 percent), consistently high job satisfaction (15 percent), started high but trending down (23 percent), and started low but trending up (17 percent).
All participants reported a number of health issues after they reached the age of 40. The researchers used the consistently high job satisfaction group as a control. Their health problems were compared with the other groups.
People in the consistently low satisfaction group reported much higher levels of depression, sleep problems, and excessive worry, as well as scoring lower on mental health measures.
Those in the group who started with high job satisfaction, but had a downward trend, were more likely than the consistently satisfied group to report trouble sleeping and excessive worry and had lower mental health scores. However, they did not fair worse on depression or emotional problems.
The group that started with low job satisfaction early on, but trended upward, did not see any extra health problems compared with the control group.
In the cases where people had low job satisfaction, their mental health was more affected than their physical health, although individuals in the low satisfaction and trending downward group did report worse overall health, increased back problems and colds. There was, however, no effect on doctor-diagnosed problems such as cancer.
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