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Unemployment and prostate cancer mortality in the OECD, 1990–2009

14 May 2015
Mahiben Maruthappu, Johnathan Watkins, Abigail Taylor, Callum Williams, Raghib Ali, Thomas Zeltner, Rifat Atun

The global economic downturn has been associated with increased unemployment in many countries. Insights into the impact of unemployment on specific health conditions remain limited. We determined the association between unemployment and prostate cancer mortality in members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). We used multivariate regression analysis to assess the association between changes in unemployment and prostate cancer mortality in OECD member states between 1990 and 2009. Country-specific differences in healthcare infrastructure, population structure, and population size were controlled for and lag analyses conducted. Several robustness checks were also performed. Time trend analyses were used to predict the number of excess deaths from prostate cancer following the 2008 global recession. Between 1990 and 2009, a 1% rise in unemployment was associated with an increase in prostate cancer mortality. Lag analysis showed a continued increase in mortality years after unemployment rises. The association between unemployment and prostate cancer mortality remained significant in robustness checks with 46 controls. Eight of the 21 OECD countries for which a time trend analysis was conducted, exhibited an estimated excess of prostate cancer deaths in at least one of 2008, 2009, or 2010, based on 2000–2007 trends. Rises in unemployment are associated with significant increases in prostate cancer mortality. Initiatives that bolster employment may help to minimise prostate cancer mortality during times of economic hardship.

Watch Dr Watkins discuss this article here.

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