We seek to quantify the relationship between health behaviors and work-related experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic by predicting health behaviors as a function of essential worker status, job loss, change in work hours, and COVID-19 experiences. We use multivariate models and survey data from 913 employed adults in a semi-rural mid-Atlantic US county, and test whether essential worker results vary by gender, parenthood, and/or university employment. Multivariate models indicate that essential workers used tobacco on more days (4.5; p <.01) and were less likely to sleep 8 h (odds ratio [OR] 0.6; p <.01) than non-essential workers. The risk of sleeping less than 8 h is concentrated among essential workers in the service industry (OR 0.5; p <.05) and non-parents (OR 0.5; p <.05). Feminine essential workers exercised on fewer days (-0.8; p <.05) than feminine non-essential workers. Workers with reduced work hours consumed more alcoholic drinks (0.3; p <.05), while workers with increased work hours consumed alcohol (0.3; p <.05) and exercised (0.6; p <.05) on more days. Essential worker status and changes in work hours are correlated with unhealthy behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101889
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Oct 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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