Temporary employment and health: a review

Int J Epidemiol. 2005 Jun;34(3):610-22. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyi024. Epub 2005 Feb 28.


Objectives: We aimed to review evidence on the relationship between temporary employment and health, and to see whether the association is dependent on outcome measure, instability of employment, and contextual factors.

Method: We systematically searched for studies of temporary employment and various health outcomes and critically appraised 27 studies.

Results: The review suggests higher psychological morbidity among temporary workers compared with permanent employees. According to some studies, temporary workers also have a higher risk of occupational injuries but their sickness absence is lower. Morbidity may be higher in temporary jobs with high employment instability and in countries with a lower number of temporary workers and unemployed workers.

Conclusions: The evidence indicates an association between temporary employment and psychological morbidity. The health risk may depend on instability of temporary employment and the context. Confounding by occupation may have biased some of the studies. Additional research to clarify the role of employment instability, hazard accumulation, and selection is recommended.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / etiology
  • Morbidity
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Research Design
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Unemployment