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Report on Louisiana workers shows poor health most common in service industry

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Baton Rouge, LA – Service industry workers in Louisiana report a higher prevalence of poor health, chronic health conditions, and risk factors such as smoking and binge drinking than all other workers in the state, according to an analysis conducted by the state’s Occupational Health and Injury Surveillance Program.

Service workers represented 17 percent of employees (about 337,000) in Louisiana in 2013 and 2014, the report notes. This includes workers in health care support, protective services, food services (who made up one-third of all service workers in the state), cleaning and maintenance, and personal care and service occupations.

Using completed survey data from Louisiana’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System from 2013 and 2014, researchers analyzed responses from 12,031 people, of which 913 were service workers. Results show that service workers were more likely to be diagnosed with asthma; diabetes; high blood pressure; and breathing issues including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Other findings:

  • 38.5 percent of service workers reported having no health care coverage.
  • 34.7 percent were obese.
  • 29.5 percent had not seen a doctor in the previous 12 months because of the cost.
  • 20.9 percent reported physical or mental health concerns for 11 to 30 of the past 30 days.
  • 17.7 percent were diagnosed with a depressive disorder.
  • 17 percent experienced stress over having enough money to pay rent or mortgage.

Regarding risk factors, 32.1 percent of service workers were smokers, and 17.8 percent reported binge drinking.

“This report provides critical information on the health and well-being of service workers in Louisiana that can be used by policymakers, community leaders, and business leaders to better understand the economic hardships, chronic health conditions, and other quality of life issues faced by this growing occupational sector. This information, in turn, can better inform policy and legislation and health intervention and prevention programs,” the report states.

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