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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
5-Mar-2009

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Contact: Charlotte Webber
charlotte.webber@biomedcentral.com
44-207-631-9980
BioMed Central
@biomedcentral

Claiming benefits improves the health of the unemployed

Unemployment benefits help reduce the negative health-related behaviours often associated with being unemployed. A study published in the open access journal BMC Public Health has found that unemployment benefits recipients are less likely to increase drinking or have changes in weight whilst out of work.

Kelly Bolton and Eunice Rodriguez of the University of California, the University of Cambridge, UK and Stanford University School of Medicine, USA, examined the impact of unemployment on tobacco smoking, use of alcohol and fluctuations in body weight among re-employed workers. Their research centred on data provided from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) - a survey of a representative sample of US citizens that reports on economic and demographic behaviour. The researchers identified 3451 healthy workers falling into three groups: those who were employed continuously over a given time period and those who experienced unemployment with and without unemployment benefits. The study investigates the persistence of changes in health behaviour after re-employment.

Bolton and Rodriguez found that after experiencing unemployment the jobless-without-benefits group drank more alcohol and lost more body weight. While these are not necessarily unhealthy behaviours, they may reflect a stress reaction. According to the authors, "Our results indicate that those who experience periods of unemployment are more vulnerable and at a higher risk of adapting potentially unhealthy behaviours than the continuously employed. Our findings may suggest that higher levels of stress exist among those who experience unemployment without compensation". The authors suggest that receiving benefits reduces both the economic and the psychological stress associated with loss of income and reinforces the perception of support.

These findings provide new insights on the role of financial support in times of job-instability. The authors conclude that, "Unemployment assistance programs should not only aim to reduce the financial impact but also the detrimental health effects of unemployment".

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Notes to Editors:

1. Smoking, drinking and body weight after re-employment: does unemployment experience and compensation make a difference?
Kelly L Bolton and Eunice Rodriguez
BMC Public Health (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/imedia/4961639421999975_article.pdf?random=107334

After the embargo, article available at journal website: http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcpublichealth/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication

2. BMC Public Health (http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcpublichealth/) is an open access journal publishing original peer-reviewed research articles in the epidemiology of disease and the understanding of all aspects of public health. The journal has a special focus on the social determinants of health, the environmental, behavioral, and occupational correlates of health and disease, and the impact of health policies, practices and interventions on the community. BMC Public Health (ISSN 1471-2458) is indexed/tracked/covered by PubMed, MEDLINE, CAS, Scopus, EMBASE, Current Contents, Thomson Reuters (ISI) and Google Scholar.

3. BioMed Central (www.biomedcentral.com) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.



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