Work, Workplaces and Health

Where we work influences our health, not only because of the physical condition of the workplace, but also by providing income that gives us the means to live in homes and neighborhoods that promote health and to pursue health-promoting behaviors. In addition, most Americans obtain their health care insurance through their jobs. Not only does work affect health; health also affects work since good health is often needed for employment. Healthy workers and their families are likely to incur lower medical costs and be more productive, while those with chronic health conditions generate higher costs in terms of health care use, absenteeism, disability and overall reduced productivity.

This issue brief examines how work can affect health. It explores the health effects of both physical and psychosocial aspects of work as well as of work-related opportunities and resources. Examples of promising approaches to making work healthier also are provided.

This is one in a series of 12 issue briefs on the social determinants of health. The series began as a product of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America and continues as a part of the Foundation's Vulnerable Populations Portfolio.