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Perceived social justice, long-term unemployment and health

A survey among marginalised groups in Austria

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Although socially disadvantaged groups are known to have a high risk of poor health the involved mechanisms and psychosocial dynamics are not fully understood. Long-term unemployment and the perception of social justice may both additionally endanger health. We therefore set out to explore the specific impact of these two context variables on self-reported health, health behaviour, and resources in marginalised groups.


A structured interview survey was conducted in three federal provinces in Austria, which targeted a quota sample of 486 subjects in long-term unemployment.


Both, duration of long-term unemployment and low perceived social justice, are strongly associated with self-reported poor health and low personal (internal) and social (external) health resources. The best differentiation of dependent variables concerning the univariate analyses was found with respect to social health resources, as all variables on this level significantly correlated with perceived social justice but not with duration of long-term unemployment.


While this study does not allow to establish causal relationships, the associations we found suggest that also perceived social justice needs to be taken into account in interventions that are intended to foster equity in health among socially disadvantaged groups.

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This common initiative EQUAL was funded by the Social Fund of the European Union (ESF) and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Labour of the Republic of Austria. The authors would like to thank Christiane Roth for assistance in translating and preparing the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Freidl.

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Freidl, W., Fazekas, C., Raml, R. et al. Perceived social justice, long-term unemployment and health. Soc Psychiat Epidemiol 42, 547–553 (2007).

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  • demand-resource model
  • health
  • long-term unemployment
  • marginalised groups
  • social justice