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Our jobs are making us sick

MEDIA RELEASE Media embargo – Monday 12 December, 2011

Our jobs are making us sick

Poor job quality and conditions are associated with increased risk of mental and physical health problems.

This is the finding from a study published in the December issue of ANZJPH.

Peter Butterworth from the Australian National University led the study, which examined data from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. This paper reports on psychosocial job quality and associations with physical and mental health.

“The psychosocial characteristics of work, such as job demands, decision control, job strain and perceptions of job insecurity can affect mental and physical health,” said Dr Butterworth.

Changes in job quality over time are more likely to affect mental health. In contrast, poor psychosocial job conditions and poor physical health was largely related to differences between people.


Free trade harmful to health

The proposed Trans-Pacific Strategic Partnership Agreement (TPPA) has implications for public health as well as the economy.

An editorial in the December issue of ANZJPH discusses the potential risks to public health of free trade agreements. It argues that health groups should press for greater transparency in the negotiation stages.

The TPPA seeks to promote economic development by a closer integration of trade between Pacific countries.

ANZJPH Editor, Prof. Alistair Woodward said the potential downsides of free trade agreements are rarely mentioned.

“There are certainly risks, particularly when one member in the negotiations is considerably more powerful than the others,” Prof. Woodward said.

“For example, the TPPA will potentially expose New Zealand citizens to the hugely powerful US pharmaceutical industry.

“Public access to affordable, safe, cost-effective medicine is paramount, but following the free trade agreement between Australia and the US, AUSFTA, prices of some medicines have risen rapidly.

“We know that unregulated free market forces tend to work against efficiency and affordability in health care.

“While some outcomes of FTAs might be good for public health, historically, rapid economic growth has been found to be both disruptive and harmful.

“For this reason, proposed FTAs should be open and susceptible to challenge during negotiation.”


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