Vidyya Medical News Service
Volume 6 Issue 54 Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 23-Feb-2004 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 24-Feb-2004
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Corporate downsizing may pose severe health risks

Organizational downsizing, sickness absence, and mortality: 10-town prospective cohort study

Corporate downsizing (reduction in personnel) may increase sickness absence and the risk of death from cardiovascular disease in employees who keep their jobs, shows new research from Finland.

Researchers identified 22,430 municipal employees in four Finnish towns, who kept their jobs during a national recession between 1991 and 1993. Rates of sickness absence and deaths were monitored for over seven years.

Major downsizing (more than 18% reduction in personnel) was associated with an increase in sickness absence in permanent employees but not in temporary employees.

Employees who had experienced major downsizing were also twice as likely to die from cardiovascular disease, particularly during the first four years after downsizing.

These results should be interpreted within the framework of work stress, say the authors. For instance, downsizing may act as a trigger for fatal cardiovascular disease and a prognostic factor in people with pre-existing cardiovascular disease.

In the global economy, downsizing has become an increasingly important trend. Policy makers, employers, and occupational health professionals should recognise that downsizing may pose a severe risk to health, they conclude.

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