Impact of Emergent Working Conditions on the Health of Working Age Californians

Ed Yelin, PhD, Nari Rhee, PhD, and Laura Trupin, MPH, investigators

The overarching aim of the proposed project is to evaluate the impact of three axes of change in the nature of employment on the health of the working age population in the context of the model shown below.  The axes include the use of alternative work arrangements ranging from task- and project-based employment and contract work; contingent employment; and erosion of traditional working conditions.

Specific aims are to:

  1. Develop a survey instrument capable of measuring the axes of change in work on a range of adverse health outcomes, including symptoms, incident and prevalent chronic conditions, and overall physical and mental health status to assess the impact of emergent work conditions at one point on subsequent health. As part of this aim, we will use cognitive interviews and pilot testing to improve upon measures of alternative working conditions.
  2. Compare the utility of individual axes of emergent working conditions singly and in combination to predict changes in health status of the working age population over time and to estimate the critical individual sentinel working conditions within the axes in determining future health status.
  3. Evaluate the changes in the organization of work as defined by the axes of change and important sentinel individual conditions for the health of the vulnerable groups in the labor force listed above. The project will test the hypothesis that the adverse health impacts of changes in the organization of work are experienced to a greater degree by vulnerable populations, an interaction effect in statistical terms.

The project will draw upon the Center’s California Work and Health Survey (CWHS). The CWHS will include 5,000 working age Californians (18-70) sampled from random digit dialing of cell phones, with oversampling among select minority groups. The CWHS respondents will be given the comprehensive telephone interview about employment history and health status as outlined in Aim 1, above. The 5,000 will constitute a cohort followed through annual contacts and a follow-up telephone survey three years later.