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Occupational mobility and risk factors in working men: selection, causality or both? Results from the GAZEL study
  1. C Ribet1,
  2. M Zins2,
  3. A Gueguen2,
  4. A Bingham1,
  5. M Goldberg2,
  6. P Ducimetière1,
  7. T Lang3
  1. 1INSERM U258, Villejuif, France
  2. 2INSERM U88, Saint-Maurice, France
  3. 3INSERM U558, Toulouse, France
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr C Ribet, INSERM U258, 16 Avenue Paul Vaillant-Couturier, 94807 Villejuif Cedex, France;


Objective: To explore the relation between risk factors (RF) and occupational mobility in working men.

Setting: 20 000 volunteers working at the French National Electricity and Gas Company (GAZEL cohort).

Participants: Men aged 43 to 53 years in 1992.

Design: Three designs were used for analysis. (1) The association between occupational mobility experienced before 1992 and RF reported at that date was analysed among 10 383 men. (2) The predictive role of RF on occupational mobility over 1992–1999 was studied in a subsample of 4715 men. (3) Reciprocally, occupational mobility in 1985–1992 was analysed in relation to RF changes over 1993–1999.

Main outcome measures: Self reported smoking status, excessive alcohol consumption, arterial hypertension, and overweight. Occupational mobility defined by any upward transition between senior executives and professionals/middle executives/employees, and workers.

Results: (1) Cross sectionally, non-mobile men as their entry into the company had a higher risk of being smokers, excessive alcohol drinkers, and overweight in 1992 than mobile men. (2) Longitudinally, smokers and excessive alcohol drinkers in 1992 had a higher risk of non-mobility than, respectively, non-smokers and non-excessive alcohol drinkers. (3) Non-mobile men in 1985–1992 had a higher risk of becoming smokers, excessive alcohol drinkers, and hypertensive in 1993–1999 than upwardly mobile men.

Conclusion: These results suggest a complex relation between RF and occupational mobility. A high level of RF, particularly health behaviours, might account for a selection process reducing upward occupational mobility. In turn, a lack of upward occupational mobility might be associated with an increased incidence of RF.

  • risk factors
  • personal habits
  • health inequalities
  • occupational mobility
  • RF, risk factors
  • OC, occupational category

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  • Funding: this study was supported in part by a grant from the Institut National de Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) (Contract no AM606E), from the Direction Générale de la Santé (DGS) and from the Réseau National de la Santé Publique (RNSP). This paper was facilitated by the ESF programme on Social Variations in Health Expectancy in Europe and by the Fondation pour la Recherche Médicale (FRM).

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