BACKGROUND: Approximately 60% of the US adult population is employed. There are many aspects of a person’s job that may influence health, but it is unclear which job characteristics are most strongly associated with health at a population level. The purpose of this study was to identify important associations between job characteristics and workers’ self-rated health (SRH) in a nationally representative survey of U.S. workers.
METHODS: Data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey were used to calculate weighted prevalence rates for fair/poor SRH for several categories of job characteristics: occupation, type of pay (hourly vs salary), sick leave, health insurance, work organization, chemical/environmental hazards, and psychosocial factors. Backward elimination methods were used to build a regression model for SRH with significant job characteristics, adjusting for sociodemographic variables and health behaviors.
RESULTS: After adjusting for covariates, workers were more likely to have fair/poor SRH if they were employed in business operations occupations (Adjusted Prevalence Ratio (aPR)=1.85, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.19-2.88), had no paid sick leave (aPR=1.35, 95% CI 1.11-1.63), worried about becoming unemployed (aPR=1.43, 95% CI 1.22-1.69), had difficulty combining work and family (aPR=1.23, 95% CI 1.01-1.49), or had been bullied/threatened on the job (aPR=1.82, 95% CI 1.44-2.29). Business operations occupations include buyers and purchasing agents, human resources workers, event planners, and marketing specialists. It is unclear why this was the only occupation category that was significantly associated with fair/poor SRH
CONCLUSIONS: Occupation, lack of paid sick leave, and multiple psychosocial factors were associated with fair/poor SRH among US workers. Public health professionals and employers should consider these factors when developing interventions to improve worker health. Workplace or occupation-specific interventions, developed with worker participation, may be warranted.