Can socioeconomic health differences be explained by physical activity at work and during leisure time? Rationale and protocol of the active worker individual participant meta-analysis: Rationale and protocol of the active worker individual participant meta-analysis

Pieter Coenen, Maaike A. Huysmans, Andreas Holtermann, Richard Troiano, Paul Jarle Mork, Steinar Krokstad, Els Clays, Willem Van Mechelen, Allard J. Van Der Beek

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction Socioeconomic health differences have often been described, but remain insufficiently understood. Recent evidence suggests that workers who are high (compared with low) physically active at work are less healthy. Moreover, workers who are highly physically active at work are predominantly physically inactive during leisure time. These observations suggest that workers with a lower socioeconomic status may be exposed to negative health consequences of occupational physical activity and may only benefit to a limited extent from health benefits of leisure-time physical activity. Physical activity may therefore be an important driver of socioeconomic health differences. We describe the rationale and protocol of the active worker study, an individual participant data meta-analysis aimed at exploring socioeconomic health differences by differential doses of physical activity at work and leisure time. Methods and analysis Using database and scoping searches (we searched in PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO and Evidence-Based Medicine Reviews from database inception to 14 September 2017), we have identified 49 published and unpublished prospective studies in which the association of occupational and leisure-time physical activity with cardiovascular or all-cause mortality was assessed. Principal investigators of these studies will be invited to participate in the active worker consortium, after which data will be retrieved. After data merging and harmonising, we will perform multilevel survival analysis assessing the combined association of occupational and leisure-time physical activity with mortality. We will also test the mediating effect of physical activity on the association of socioeconomic status and mortality (ie, socioeconomic health differences). Discussion The Medical Ethical Committee of the VU University Medical Center has declared, according to Dutch legislation, that the 'Dutch Medical Research Involving Human Subjects Act' does not apply to the current study. As such, no ethics approval is required. We intent to publish outcomes of the active worker Study in scientific peer-reviewed journals.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere023379
Pages (from-to)e023379
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • all-cause mortality
  • cardiovascular mortality
  • individual participant meta-analysis
  • leisure-time physical activity
  • occupational physical activity
  • socio-economic health differences

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