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Job insecurity is associated with adult asthma in Germany during Europe's recent economic crisis: a prospective cohort study


Background Job insecurity has been identified as a risk factor for adverse health outcomes. Perceptions of job insecurity steeply increased during Europe's recent economic downturn, which commenced in 2008. The current study assessed whether job insecurity was associated with incident asthma in Germany during this period.

Methods We used prospective data from the German Socio-Economic Panel for the period 2009–2011 (follow-up rate=77.5%, n=7031). Job insecurity was defined by respondents’ ratings of the probability of losing their job within the next 2 years and asthma as self-reports of physician-diagnosed asthma. Associations between job insecurity in 2009 (continuous z-scores or categorised variables) and incident asthma by 2011 were assessed using multivariable Poisson regression.

Results The risk of asthma increased significantly by 24% with every one SD increase of the job insecurity variable. In dichotomised analyses, a probability of job loss of ≥50% (vs <50%) was associated with a 61% excess risk of asthma. A trichotomous categorisation of job insecurity confirmed this finding.

Conclusions This study has shown, for the first time, that perceived job insecurity may increase the risk of new onset asthma. Further prospective studies may examine the generalisability of our findings and determine the underlying mechanisms.

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