Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Health risk factors and self-rated health among job-seekers

Jennis Freyer-Adam1*, Beate Gaertner23, Stefanie Tobschall1 and Ulrich John1

Author Affiliations

1 University Medicine Greifswald, Institute of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, Walther-Rathenau-Str. 48, 17475 Greifswald, Germany

2 Charité University Medicine Berlin, Institute of Biometry and Clinical Epidemiology, Luisenstr. 65, 10117 Berlin, Germany

3 Robert Koch Institute, Department of Epidemiology and Health Monitoring, General-Pape-Str. 62-66, 12101 Berlin, Germany

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:659  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-659

Published: 19 August 2011



To determine a) proportions of behavior related health risk factors among job-seekers and b) to what extend these are related to self-rated health.


Over 12 months, job-seekers were recruited at three job-agencies in northeastern Germany. Among all individuals eligible for study inclusion, 7,906 (79.8%) provided information on smoking, risky drinking, overweight/obesity (body mass index), fruit and vegetable intake, physical inactivity, illicit drug use, and self-rated health. Proportions and 95% confidence intervals stratified by gender, age and duration of unemployment were calculated. Multivariate logistic regression analyses predicting self-rated health were conducted.


The proportions of each health-risk factor were high, and 52.4% of the sample (53.4% male, 33.5 years mean age) had 3 or more health risk factors. Mostly, the proportions were particularly high among men and long-term unemployed individuals; e.g. 84.8% of the 18-24 year old long-term unemployed men were current smokers. Proportions of substance use related health risk factors were highest among the 18-24 year olds (e.g. risky drinking 28.7%), and proportions of health risk factors related to nutrition and physical inactivity were highest among the 40-64 year olds (e.g. overweight/obesity 65.4%). Depending on gender, all health risk factors and having 3 or more health risk factors were associated with lower self-rated health; odd ratios ranged between 1.2 for smoking (95% CI: 1.0-1.3) and 1.7 for overweight and physical inactivity (95% CI: 1.5-1.9).


Prevention efforts to reduce health risk factors and to increase health among job-seekers are needed, and job agencies appear a feasible setting for their implementation.

addictive behavior; body mass index; health behavior; unemployment & health; health promotion