High stress related to impairment among older workers, study shows
"Low socioeconomic position and chronic stress at work exerted significant effects on disability scores two years later," said a study in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. "Investing in good quality of work and reducing social inequalities in health and functioning are relevant entry points of policies that aim at maintaining work ability in early old age."
The researchers analyzed data on nearly 5,000 workers between the ages of 50 and 64 in 11 European countries. They used sociodemographic, socioeconomic, and work-related factors -- low control, effort-reward imbalance -- and baseline disability to predict disability two years later.
"Disability is no longer interpreted as a fixed attribute of an individual, but rather as a dynamic continuum of experiences at different levels (bodily impairment, restrictions in activity and social participation)," the study said. "As disability results from an interaction of vulnerable individuals with a broad range of environmental factors, including working conditions, it seems mandatory to assess this condition in a multidimensional, quantitative frame of analysis."
Disability was divided into two components: impairment and restriction in activities and participation. As the authors explained, people with the same impairment can experience very different types and degrees of restriction, depending on the context.
They looked at data from the first two waves of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, the first longitudinal research project that compares data on working conditions, retirement, health and well-being, and social position among people 50 and older in multiple European countries. The data was from 2004-05 and 2006-07.
A majority of the participants had medium or low education and more than half had high incomes. About 23 percent experienced low control at work and 31 percent had an imbalance between high efforts and low rewards.
"As expected, we observe higher scores of the two disability factors, among men and women experiencing chronic stress at work," the report says. "Significant effects of gender, age, socioeconomic position and work stress on impairment scores were confirmed in multivariate analysis."
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
March 25, 2013
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