New Research highlights how job insecurity in the workplace is increasing the risk of developing Asthma
Stress in the workplace can cause many different health and mental issues that are often over looked. A recent study, undertaken by an international team of researchers, has identified that people with high job insecurity have a 60 per cent excess risk of asthma development. The study was conducted by experts at the University of Amsterdam, the University of Dusseldorf and Massey University in New Zealand. The new research piece does relate to previous studies that highlighted the development of asthma through stress.
The researchers of the study analysed the data of 7,000 workers, who had all answered a German Socio-Economic Panel study, in 2009 and 2011. Between these years, Europe was involved in an economic downfall, all of which would have contributed to workers stress relating to job insecurity. The study analysed individuals who felt that their job security was 50:50 in the next two years. In the study, after including other social factors which will be discussed later, they found for every 25% increase in the threat of job security, the risk of asthma rose by 24%. During the study itself 105 new cases of asthma were diagnosed among the group, however whether this was due to job insecurity can be hard to fully define.
Not Just Stress
The one underlying issue within the study is that it focuses heavily on the implications of stress on an individual’s health, specifically job insecurity. However there are many other underlying factors, all of which also relate to external factors such as current economy that can potentially asthma and other health issues. In times of stress, especially within economic recession, an individual’s nutrition could be affected or the person could begin smoking more regularly with work stress. These two elements could easily factor into the potential of asthma development. Another important factor that isn’t addressed in material is the acknowledgment of the working environment. The chance of asthma development, for example, in an office is inevitably going to be less than someone who works in construction. Even if both parties share the same amount of job insecurity the factor of the actual working environment needs to be acknowledged.
It is important to note that this is an observational study, so the evidence provided is not fact. It does however generate further questions as to workplace health not only being a physical factor. The mental pressures of work can lead to other conditions however the regulation of these circumstances is not as rigid and formatted as for example personal injury. To fully understand the implications of stress in the workplace further studies need to be done, specifically into both internal and external and elements of an individual’s lifestyle as a means of identifying root causes.
This statement by Dr Samantha Walker, director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK, said: “Stress is a well-known trigger for asthma symptoms; 69 per cent of people with the condition say it causes them to experience asthma symptoms that may lead them to have potentially life-threatening asthma attack, but there is limited evidence to date to link the stress associated with job uncertainty to the development of asthma”.
 “Job insecurity may increase adult asthma risk”, NHS choices Online, http://www.nhs.uk/news/2014/09September/Pages/Job-insecurity-may-increase-adult-asthma-risk.aspx
 “Stress at work, increases risk of developing asthma, according to major new research”, Jonathan Owen, The Independent, http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/stress-at-work-increases-risk-of-developing-asthma-according-to-major-new-research-9749239.html
 “Job loss fears may trigger asthma”, Nicky Broyd, WebMD UK, http://www.webmd.boots.com/asthma/news/20140923/job-loss-fears-asthma