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A Longitudinal Study of the Mental Health Impacts of Job Loss: The Role of Socioeconomic, Sociodemographic, and Social Capital Factors

Ziersch, Anna M. PhD; Baum, Fran PhD; Woodman, Richard J. PhD; Newman, Lareen PhD; Jolley, Gwyn PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: July 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 7 - p 714–720
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000193
Original Articles

Objectives: To examine the role of socioeconomic, sociodemographic, and social capital factors in buffering or exacerbating the mental health impacts of job loss.

Methods: A 2-year longitudinal cohort study of 300 workers experiencing job loss from a motoring manufacturer in Adelaide, South Australia. Data were collected on mental health (12-item version of the General Health Questionnaire) and socioeconomic, sociodemographic, and social capital factors. Analysis used linear mixed-effects regression.

Results: Workers had poorer mental health than the general population. Female gender, less years at the plant, and not being partnered were associated with poorer mental health. The effects of financial status depended on current employment and levels of social support. Trust and social contact were associated with better mental health.

Conclusion: A number of socioeconomic, sociodemographic, and social capital factors influence mental health in workers experiencing job loss, offering clues on how to support workers.

From the Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity (Profs Ziersch and Baum and Drs Newman and Jolley) and Flinders Centre for Epidemiology & Biostatistics (Prof Woodman), Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia.

Address correspondence to: Anna M. Ziersch, PhD, Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia 5001 (

The research was supported by the South Australian Department of Health and the South Australian Department of Families and Communities through the Human Services Research and Innovation Program, and the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Program (LP0562288). The authors also acknowledge support from a National Health and Medical Research Council Capacity Building Grant (324724), the ARC Federation Fellowship of Prof Fran Baum, and the ARC Future Fellowship of A/Prof Anna Ziersch.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2014 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine