Precarious employment and general, mental and physical health in Stockholm, Sweden: a cross-sectional study

Scand J Public Health. 2021 Mar;49(2):228-236. doi: 10.1177/1403494820956451. Epub 2020 Sep 16.


Objectives: To investigate the association between precarious employment and health in a sample of non-standard employees in Stockholm County, Sweden, by addressing three specific research questions: is the degree of precarious employment (low, moderate, high) associated with self-rated. . . (a) general health, (b) mental health, (c) musculoskeletal pain? Methods: Web-based respondent-driven sampling was used to recruit a sample of 415 employees in Stockholm, Sweden, during 2016-2017. Questionnaire data were collected on employment conditions (the Swedish version of the employment precariousness scale (EPRES-Se)), general health, mental health and musculoskeletal pain. EPRES-Se scores were categorised as low, moderate or high. Generalised linear models with Poisson distribution, log link functions and robust variances were applied for calculating crude and adjusted prevalence ratios (PR; aPR) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for all outcomes. Results: The prevalence ratios of poor self-rated general and mental health increased with increased degree of precariousness, as indicated by estimates of moderate precarious employment (a2PRModerate 1.44 (CI 0.98-2.11); a2PRModerate 1.13 (CI 0.82-1.62)), and high precarious employment (a2PRHigh 1.78 (CI 1.21-2.62); a2PRHigh 1.69 (CI 1.25-2.28)), albeit only significantly so for high precarious employment. Conclusions: This is the first study in Sweden reporting on the association between precarious employment, as measured with a multidimensional scale, and multiple health outcomes. The results add to the evidence of an association between precarious employment and self-rated poor general and mental health. Larger, representative studies with longitudinal designs using the EPRES-Se are called for in order to strengthen these results and the already existing evidence of the harm of precarious employment.

Keywords: Precarious employment; mental health; non-standard employment; occupational health; physical health.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden
  • Young Adult