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J Occup Health Psychol. 1999 Apr;4(2):152-63.

Permanent employment but not in a preferred occupation: psychological and medical aspects, research implications.

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Department for Work and Health, National Institute for Working Life, Stockholm, Sweden.


In a representative sample from Statistics Sweden's Labor Market Survey (N = 1,564), it was found that 28% of permanent employees were not in their preferred occupation. In part, this is attributable to prevailing conditions in the labor market, with a lack of jobs, and to the insecurity of time-restricted employment contracts. In this study, the work conditions and health of persons in such a "locked-in" position were investigated. Participants reported significantly more headaches and greater fatigue and slight depression than did those in comparison groups. Results are discussed in relation to psychological theories of control and to a model of individual action strategies. Proposals are made to guide further studies in an area in which research so far has been sparsely conducted.

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