Job insecurity is associated with a moderate increased risk of diabetes, according to a large study of workers in Australia, the United States and several countries in Europe published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

"In common parlance, job insecurity is understood to refer to employed workers who feel threatened by unemployment," states lead author Dr. Jane Ferrie, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, United Kingdom.

To understand whether there is a link between job insecurity and the risk of diabetes, a team of researchers looked at data from open-access studies and cohort studies participating in the European-based Individual-Participant-Data Meta-analysis in Working Populations Consortium (IPD Work Consortium) research program. The 19 studies included 140 825 participants with a mean age of 42.2 years, of whom 81 816 were women and 59 009 were men. After adjusting for age, sex and other factors, the researchers found a 19% increase in the number of new cases of diabetes in workers with job insecurity.

"These results are consistent with other studies, showing that job insecurity is associated with weight gain, a risk factor for diabetes, and, with incident coronary heart disease, a complication of diabetes," Ferrie states.

The authors found no previous studies linking job insecurity with new cases of diabetes.

"These findings are most appropriately interpreted in a public health context in which small long-term effects on common disease outcomes can have high relevance," write the authors. "Ideally in such situations, policy responses should take a population-level approach to reducing exposure to job insecurity. Also, health care personnel should be aware that workers reporting job insecurity may be a modest increased risk of diabetes."

Article: Job insecurity and risk of diabetes: a meta-analysis of individual participant data, Jane Ferrie et al., CMAJ, doi: 10.1503/cmaj.150942, published online 3 October 2016.