The influence of chronic health problems and work-related factors on loss of paid employment among older workers

Fenna R. M. Leijten, Astrid de Wind, Swenne G. van den Heuvel, Jan Fekke Ybema, Allard J. van der Beek, Suzan J. W. Robroek, Alex Burdorf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background With an ageing society and increasing retirement ages, it is important to understand how employability can be promoted in older workers with health problems. The current study aimed to determine whether (1) different chronic health problems predict transitions from paid employment to disability benefits, unemployment and early retirement, and (2) how workrelated factors modify these associations. Methods Self-report questionnaire data was used from the Dutch longitudinal Study on Transitions in Employment, Ability and Motivation with 3 years of follow-up (2010-2013), among employees aged 45-64 years (N=8149). The influence of baseline chronic health problems and work-related factors on transitions from paid employment to disability benefits, unemployment and early retirement during follow-up was estimated in a competing risks proportional hazards model. Relative excess risk of transitions due to the interaction between chronic health problems and workrelated factors was assessed. Results Severe headache, diabetes mellitus and musculoskeletal, respiratory, digestive and psychological health problems predicted an increased risk of disability benefits (HR range 1.78-2.79). Circulatory (HR=1.35) and psychological health problems (HR=2.58) predicted unemployment, and musculoskeletal (HR=1.23) and psychological health problems (HR=1.57) predicted early retirement. Work-related factors did not modify the influence of health problems on unemployment or early retirement. Psychosocial work-related factors, especially autonomy, modified the influence of health problems on disability benefits. Specifically, among workers with health problems, higher autonomy, higher support and lower psychological job demands reduced the risk of disability benefits by 82%, 49%, and 11%, respectively. Conclusions All health problems affected disability benefits to a similar extent, but psychological health problems especially predicted unemployment and early retirement. For older workers with health problems, promoting an optimal work environment has the potential to contribute to sustainable employment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1058-1065
JournalJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Volume69
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Cite this