ABSTRACT: PURPOSE: Long-term unemployment has negative effects on both mental and physical health. In combination with an inactive lifestyle, it often leads to functional or constitutional limitations that make reemployment in the labor market difficult especially for older adults. The presented pilot study examined a 3-month-long interventional program for improving health of older, long-term unemployed persons with regard to its effectiveness and acceptance by the target group. METHODS: The low-threshold intervention was offered by a job training center that supports reemployment and was divided into lectures for enhancing the individual health competence and a supervised physical training part in a fitness center. One hundred and nineteen long-term unemployed workers (53.7 ± 3 years) took part in a prospective investigation with 3 data collection points: before intervention (T1), after intervention (T2, n = 94), and 6 month after intervention (T3, n = 59). The spectrum of methods included the assessment of nutritional status, cardiovascular risk factors, physical fitness, chronic backache, and depression. RESULTS: As a result of the intervention, the physical fitness improved significantly (maximal oxygen uptake: p < 0.002). Cardiovascular risk factors like systolic and diastolic blood pressure (p < 0.016; p < 0.001) and percentage body fat (p < 0.017) decreased significantly. There were also remarkable effects in the reduction in depression (p < 0.028). Chronic backache was lowered in more than 50% of the cases. CONCLUSION: The health promotion program reached people who have a desire to improve both physical and mental health. To assume responsibility for their own health may be a first step in regaining self-confidence and lowering the work placement barriers.
International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health 02/2012; · 1.89 Impact Factor