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Disruptive life events and health

Longitudinal evidence from a large cohort in the Netherlands
PhD ceremony:Mr L. (Lluís) Mangot Sala
When:October 04, 2023
Supervisors:prof. A.C. Liefbroer, dr. N. (Nynke) Smidt
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Medical Sciences / UMCG
Disruptive life events and health

Events that happen in individuals’ lives can have far-reaching consequences in many different life domains, for instance on one’s health and health behaviours. Some events, such as finding a partner or having a child, are usually perceived as “positive” by those who experience them, and can have a positive effect on health. Yet, other “disruptive” or stressful events -for instance the death of a partner or losing your job- may lead to poorer health, and/or increase unhealthy behaviours, such as alcohol abuse, to cope with stress. Moreover, this may be true for individual events, such as unemployment, which affect specific individuals (and those around them), but also for collective events that affect millions of people, like the Covid-19 pandemic did.  We used a large sample of individuals from the northern provinces of the Netherlands to study the impact of unemployment and the Covid-19 pandemic on health. Results show that individuals who were unemployed for more than a few months, or several times, had higher risk of abusing alcohol (binge drinking). Regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, depression and anxiety symptoms clearly increased in the population during the preventive lockdowns, and the negative effect accumulated over time. In fact, those who experienced several disruptive events (for instance, having precarious working conditions as well as having previous mental health issues), suffered the most negative impact in terms of mental and physical health.