Temporary Employment and Risk of Overall and Cause-specific Mortality

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The number of nonpermanent employees is rising, but mortality in this group has received little attention. The authors examined the associations between temporary employment and all-cause and cause-specific mortality. Longitudinal data from 10 towns in Finland related to 26,592 men and 65,759 women, of whom 1,332 died between 1990 and 2001. Cox proportional hazards models adjusted for age, occupational status, salary, and change in occupational title showed that overall mortality was 1.2–1.6 times higher among male and female temporary employees compared with permanent employees. Temporary employment was associated with increased deaths from alcohol-related causes (hazard ratio (HR)=2.0, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.4, 2.9 for men; HR=1.7, 95% CI: 1.1, 2.5 for women) and, for men, smoking-related cancer (HR=2.8, 95% CI: 1.3, 6.0). Corresponding risks were greater for the unemployed. Moving from temporary to permanent employment was associated with a lower risk of death than remaining continuously in permanent employment (HR=0.7, 95% CI: 0.5, 0.9 for men and women combined). These findings suggest that the conventional research practice of treating the employed as a single group may attenuate the associations between employment status and mortality.

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