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As part of a longitudinal study on the consequences of job-loss on health the modifying influence of job-tenure on a group of factory workers made redundant when a meat products factory closed was examined. The older workers, both men and women, were divided into two groups which were comparable in all respects except for job-tenure. Statistically significant differences in morbidity were found when comparing the two groups of male employees and their families.
However, the men with longer job-tenure (mean 30 years) had, with few exceptions, served the company since leaving school. All of the other men (mean job-tenure 11 years) had previously worked elsewhere or been unemployed. The uptake of medical services before and after factory closure was therefore compared in two groups of workers and their families. One group who had previous experience of the job market showed a significant rise in morbidity only during the unsettling three years before factory closure. The other group, whose working lives had been spent wholly with the company, showed only a slight anticipatory effect but then demonstrated statistically significant increases in consultation rates after job-loss. Three years later they still showed no signs of adapting to their situation.
The results suggest that previous experience of having no job or of having to change jobs may be just as influential as job tenure on the outcome of health before and after compulsory redundancy.