Effect of unemployment on cardiovascular risk factors and mental health

Occup Med (Lond). 2014 Sep;64(6):436-41. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqu044. Epub 2014 Apr 11.


Background: Following the economic changes in Poland, increasing health discrepancies were observed during a period of 20 years, which may be partly attributable to the consequences of unemployment.

Aims: To assess the association between unemployment, major cardiovascular risk factors and mental health.

Methods: A cross-sectional study in which data were collected between 2009 and 2010 during preventive health examinations by an occupational medicine service in Gdansk, Poland. Data on blood pressure, resting heart rate, information about smoking habits, body mass index and history of use of mental health services were collected during these assessments. Multiple logistic regression was used during data analysis to adjust for age, gender, education and length of employment.

Results: Study participants comprised 3052 unemployed and 2059 employed individuals. After adjustment for age, gender, education and number of previous employments, the odds ratio (OR) for hypertension in relation to unemployment was 1.02 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.84-1.23]. There was a statistically significant negative association between being overweight and unemployment (OR = 0.81, 95% CI: 0.66-0.99). Smoking was positively associated with unemployment after adjustment for age and sex (OR = 1.45, 95% CI: 1.25-1.67). There was a positive relationship between mental ill-health and unemployment among study participants (OR = 2.05, 95% CI: 0.91-4.65), but this was not statistically significant.

Conclusions: The patterns of major cardiovascular risk factors differed between unemployed and employed individuals in Poland. Our observations suggest employment status is a predictor of specific disease risk profiles; consequently, specific preventive measures are needed in unemployed individuals.

Keywords: Cardiovascular risk factors; cross-sectional study; mental health; unemployment..

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Economic Recession / statistics & numerical data*
  • Educational Status
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Poland / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Unemployment / statistics & numerical data*


  • Cholesterol