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Unemployment: Morbidity And Mortality Rates

Volume 414: debated on Thursday 13 November 1980

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What studies are currently being financed by the Department of Health, area health authorities or the Medical Research Council on the association between unemployment and other social ills and morbidity and mortality rates.

Two departmentally funded projects are expected to produce relevant information:

  • (a) The Department's cohort study of men who registered as unemployed during the autumn of 1978. This includes questions on the effects of unemployment on health.
  • (b) Families and the effects of unemployment. A small-scale study by Dr. L. Fagin of the London Hospital and Mr. M. Little.
  • The department is currently considering a proposal from Queen Mary College, London University for a research study which would test the hypothesis that there is a link between unemployment and mortality rates.Consideration is also being given to a Third National Morbidity Survey which it is hoped will start in mid-1981. This study would, over a period of 12 months, look at the morbidity encountered in a sample of general practices spread over the country, and relate the findings to the social and environmental factors recorded in the 1981 Census. A number of Medical Research Council Units are undertaking research which might have a bearing on morbidity and mortality rates and the link with phenomena such as unemployment. For instance the Social and Applied Psychology Unit (administered jointly with Social Science Research Council) examines occupational stress and strain and the effects of redundancy and unemployment; the Applied Psychology Unit assesses work performance after sleep loss, under noisy and hot conditions, after alcohol intake, and at times of increased anxiety; the Unit for Epidemiological Studies in Psychiatry studies sections of the population where there is a high risk of particular psychiatric illnesses and examines the attendant social and psychological factors; the Environmental Physiology Unit, which closed on 30th September this year, conducted research into the anatomical and physiological problems arising in working and living environments. No information is held centrally about research undertaken by area health authorities.