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The effect of adverse employment circumstances on physical pain: Evidence from Australian panel data

Macchia, L. ORCID: 0000-0001-9558-4747, Daly, M. & Delaney, L. (2023). The effect of adverse employment circumstances on physical pain: Evidence from Australian panel data. Preventive Medicine, 173, article number 107574. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2023.107574


Physical pain is a common health problem with great public health implications. Yet evidence on whether adverse employment circumstances shape physical pain is limited. Using longitudinal data from 20 waves (2001−2020) from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics of Australia Survey (HILDA; N = 23,748), a lagged design, Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regressions as well as multilevel mixed effect linear regressions, we investigated the association between past accumulated unemployment and recent employment circumstances with physical pain. We found that adults who spent more years unemployed and looking for work subsequently reported greater physical (b = 0.034, 95% CI = 0.023, 0.044) and pain interference (b = 0.031, 95% CI = 0.022, 0.038) than those who spent fewer years unemployed. We also found that those experiencing overemployment (working full-time while wanting to work fewer hours) and underemployment (working part-time while wanting to work more hours) reported greater subsequent physical pain (overemployment: b = 0.024, 95% CI = 0.009, 0.039; underemployment: b = 0.036, 95% CI = 0.014, 0.057) and pain interference (overemployment: b = 0.017, 95% CI = 0.005, 0.028; underemployment: b = 0.026, 95% CI = 0.009, 0.043) than those content with their working hours. These results held after controlling for socio-demographic characteristics, occupation, and other health-related factors. These findings are consistent with recent work that suggested that psychological distress can influence physical pain. Understanding how adverse employment circumstances impact physical pain is crucial to the design of health promotion policies.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons CC-BY license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: Physical pain, Unemployment, Overemployment, Underemployment, Work preference,Adverse employment
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences
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