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Journal of Environmental and Public Health
Volume 2013, Article ID 978656, 10 pages
Research Article

Employment Precariousness and Poor Mental Health: Evidence from Spain on a New Social Determinant of Health

1Departamento de Salud Pública, Facultad de Medicina, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 8330073 Santiago, Chile
2Health Inequalities Research Group, Employment Conditions Knowledge Network (GREDS-EMCONET), Department of Political and Social Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, 08005 Barcelona, Spain
3Center for Research in Occupational Health (CISAL), Department of Experimental and Health Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
4Departamento de Ciencias Ambientales, Universidad Nacional de Avellaneda, B1870BWH Ciudad de Avellaneda, Argentina
5Department of Sociology, Faculty of Political Science and Sociology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), 08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain
6Unitat de Recerca en Serveis Sanitaris, Institut Municipal d'Investigació Mèdica, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
7CIBER Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Spain
8Union Institute of Work Environment and Health (ISTAS), 08003 Barcelona, Spain
9Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5T 1P8

Received 10 August 2012; Accepted 24 December 2012

Academic Editor: Michael Quinlan

Copyright © 2013 Alejandra Vives et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Evidence on the health-damaging effects of precarious employment is limited by the use of one-dimensional approaches focused on employment instability. This study assesses the association between precarious employment and poor mental health using the multidimensional Employment Precariousness Scale. Methods. Cross-sectional study of 5679 temporary and permanent workers from the population-based Psychosocial Factors Survey was carried out in 2004-2005 in Spain. Poor mental health was defined as SF-36 mental health scores below the 25th percentile of the Spanish reference for each respondent’s sex and age. Prevalence proportion ratios (PPRs) of poor mental health across quintiles of employment precariousness (reference: 1st quintile) were calculated with log-binomial regressions, separately for women and men. Results. Crude PPRs showed a gradient association with poor mental health and remained generally unchanged after adjustments for age, immigrant status, socioeconomic position, and previous unemployment. Fully adjusted PPRs for the 5th quintile were 2.54 (95% CI: 1.95–3.31) for women and 2.23 (95% CI: 1.86–2.68) for men. Conclusion. The study finds a gradient association between employment precariousness and poor mental health, which was somewhat stronger among women, suggesting an interaction with gender-related power asymmetries. Further research is needed to strengthen the epidemiological evidence base and to inform labour market policy-making.