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Health inequalities and the psychosocial environment--two scientific challenges

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  • Siegrist, Johannes
  • Marmot, Michael

Abstract

As social inequalities in health continue to be a key public health problem, scientific advances in explaining these inequalities are needed. It is unlikely that there will be a single explanation of social inequalities in health. This introductory paper sets out one explanatory framework, exposure to adverse psychosocial environments during midlife, and particularly at work. We argue that exposure to an adverse psychosocial environment, in terms of job tasks, defined by high demands and low control and/or by effort-reward imbalance, elicits sustained stress reactions with negative long-term consequences for health. These exposures may be implicated in the association of socioeconomic status with health in two ways. First, these exposures are likely to be experienced more frequently among lower socioeconomic groups. Second, the size of the effects on health produced by adverse working conditions may be higher in lower status groups, due to their increased vulnerability. In this special issue, these arguments are illustrated by a collection of original contributions from collaborative research across Europe. The papers, in our view, advance the case for the robust associations between measures of adverse psychosocial environment and ill health, as they are based on comparative studies across several European countries and as they combine different types of study designs. This collaboration was enabled and supported by a European Science Foundation scientific programme on 'Social Variations in Health Expectancy in Europe'.

Suggested Citation

  • Siegrist, Johannes & Marmot, Michael, 2004. "Health inequalities and the psychosocial environment--two scientific challenges," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 58(8), pages 1463-1473, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:58:y:2004:i:8:p:1463-1473
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    Cited by:

    1. Hyde, Martin & Jappinen, Paavo & Theorell, Tores & Oxenstierna, Gabriel, 2006. "Workplace conflict resolution and the health of employees in the Swedish and Finnish units of an industrial company," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(8), pages 2218-2227, October.
    2. Bridget O'Laughlin & Bridget O'Laughlin, 2016. "Forum 2016," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 47(4), pages 686-711, July.
    3. Demakakos, Panayotes & Nazroo, James & Breeze, Elizabeth & Marmot, Michael, 2008. "Socioeconomic status and health: The role of subjective social status," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 330-340, July.
    4. Thierry Debrand & Pascale Lengagne, 2007. "Pénibilité au travail et santé des seniors en Europe," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 403(1), pages 19-38.
    5. Zachary Zimmer & Heidi Hanson & Ken Smith, 2016. "Childhood socioeconomic status, adult socioeconomic status, and old-age health trajectories," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 34(10), pages 285-320, February.
    6. Milner, A. & Krnjacki, L. & Butterworth, P. & Kavanagh, A. & LaMontagne, Anthony D., 2015. "Does disability status modify the association between psychosocial job quality and mental health? A longitudinal fixed-effects analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 104-111.
    7. von dem Knesebeck, Olaf & Verde, Pablo E. & Dragano, Nico, 2006. "Education and health in 22 European countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(5), pages 1344-1351, September.
    8. Ezeamama, Amara E. & Viali, Satupaitea & Tuitele, John & McGarvey, Stephen T., 2006. "The influence of socioeconomic factors on cardiovascular disease risk factors in the context of economic development in the Samoan archipelago," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(10), pages 2533-2545, November.
    9. repec:eee:ecosys:v:42:y:2018:i:1:p:119-131 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Ibrahim, S. & Smith, P. & Muntaner, C., 2009. "A multi-group cross-lagged analyses of work stressors and health using Canadian National sample," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 49-59, January.
    11. Glass, Thomas A. & McAtee, Matthew J., 2006. "Behavioral science at the crossroads in public health: Extending horizons, envisioning the future," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(7), pages 1650-1671, April.
    12. Sweet, Elizabeth, 2010. ""If your shoes are raggedy you get talked about": Symbolic and material dimensions of adolescent social status and health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(12), pages 2029-2035, June.
    13. repec:eee:socmed:v:183:y:2017:i:c:p:130-141 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Koster, Annemarie & Bosma, Hans & van Lenthe, Frank J. & Kempen, Gertrudis I.J.M. & Mackenbach, Johan P. & van Eijk, Jacques Th.M., 2005. "The role of psychosocial factors in explaining socio-economic differences in mobility decline in a chronically ill population: results from the GLOBE study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 123-132, July.
    15. Ade Kearns & Elise Whitley & Phil Mason & Mark Petticrew & Caroline Hoy, 2011. "Material and meaningful homes: mental health impacts and psychosocial benefits of rehousing to new dwellings," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 56(6), pages 597-607, December.
    16. Zimmer, Zachary & Wen, Ming & Kaneda, Toshiko, 2010. "A multi-level analysis of urban/rural and socioeconomic differences in functional health status transition among older Chinese," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 559-567, August.
    17. Zimmer, Zachary, 2008. "Poverty, wealth inequality and health among older adults in rural Cambodia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 57-71, January.
    18. Väänänen, Ari & Anttila, Erkko & Turtiainen, Jussi & Varje, Pekka, 2012. "Formulation of work stress in 1960–2000: Analysis of scientific works from the perspective of historical sociology," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(5), pages 784-794.
    19. Steven Prus, 2007. "Age, SES, and Health: A Population Level Analysis of Health Inequalities over the Life Course," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 181, McMaster University.
    20. Broom, Dorothy H. & D'Souza, Rennie M. & Strazdins, Lyndall & Butterworth, Peter & Parslow, Ruth & Rodgers, Bryan, 2006. "The lesser evil: Bad jobs or unemployment? A survey of mid-aged Australians," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 575-586, August.
    21. Goldman, Noreen & Turra, Cassio M. & Rosero-Bixby, Luis & Weir, David & Crimmins, Eileen, 2011. "Do biological measures mediate the relationship between education and health: A comparative study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 307-315, January.

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