Structure and Control of Healthy Worker Effects in Studies of Pregnancy Outcomes.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Much of the literature on the healthy worker effect focuses on studies of chronic disease and mortality; however, when studying pregnancy outcomes, these effects might differ because of the short, defined risk periods of most pregnancy outcomes. Three pregnancy-specific healthy worker effects have also been described, but the structure of these effects has not yet been investigated when occupational exposure, and not employment status, is the exposure of interest. We used directed acyclic graphs to examine healthy worker effects in studies of occupational exposures and pregnancy outcomes: the healthy hire effect, the healthy worker survivor effect, the desperation/privilege effect (differential workforce reentry after pregnancy), the reproductively unhealthy worker effect (women with live births leave the workforce, while women with nonlive births do not), and the insecure pregnancy effect (women with adverse pregnancy outcomes reduce their exposures in subsequent pregnancies). Given our assumptions, we conclude that the healthy hire effect, the desperation/privilege effect, the reproductively unhealthy worker effect, and the insecure pregnancy effect result from confounding that can be addressed if data on measured confounders, such as employment status, are available. The presence of the healthy worker survivor effect, however, varies by study design. Different types of healthy worker effects can be present in studies of occupational exposure and pregnancy outcomes, and many of them are easily addressed analytically.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Johnson, CY; Rocheleau, CM; Grajewski, B; Howards, PP

Published Date

  • March 1, 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 188 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 562 - 569

PubMed ID

  • 30576409

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1476-6256

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/aje/kwy277


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States