High job strain may lead to poor health and functioning in old age

Poor work ability, i.e. the insufficient physical and mental capacity of a person in relation to the demands posed by work, predicts a decline in old-age health and functioning. This was confirmed by the Finnish Longitudinal Study on Municipal mployees (FLAME), which followed middle-aged public sector employees for a period of 28 years.

The research data will be presented in the international Work Well-being and Wealth conference on 26–28.8 in Helsinki, organized by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH). The conference will focus on the latest knowledge, challenges and solutions related to extending working careers, well-being at work and productivity.

Work comprises a large part of adult life, yet little is known about the potential long-term effects of work on health and functioning in old age. The rapid ageing of the Western population has caused researchers to pay attention to these factors and to try to find new ways in which to prevent the health decline of older people and to decrease their growing need for health care.

”The poor work ability of middle-aged employees can be considered an early warning sign of a decline in functioning in old age,” claims Dr. Mikaela von Bonsdorff from the University of Jyväskylä.

”In this ageing cohort, we found that mental and physical job strain in midlife were related to an increased need for hospital care and premature mortality, although gender and occupational class differences were identified,” says Dr. von Bonsdorff.

The recent findings suggest that adjusting the demands of work and promoting the physical and mental well-being of the ageing workforce may prevent or slow down the rate of health decline and disability also after retirement.

The FLAME study was initiated in 1981 by FIOH and comprised nearly 6000 public sector employees from white-collar and blue-collar professions. The study group consisted of researchers from the Gerontology Research Center at the University of Jyväskylä and the University of Tampere, and from FIOH.

The Work, Well-being and Wealth: Active Ageing at Work conference (WWW2013) is organized in Helsinki in collaboration with international scientific organizations (JPI, PEROSH, ICOH, IEA, European Agency on Safety and Health at Work), the Ministry for Social Affairs and Health, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, and Finnish labour market organizations. The conference will be attended by almost 200 researchers and experts from almost 30 different countries.

Further information: Dr. Mikaela von Bonsdorff, Gerontology Research Center and Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
Tel: +358 400 342 692, mikaela.vonbonsdorff(at)jyu.fi

Further information regarding the conference: Mikko Härmä, Research Professor, FIOH, tel : +358 30 474 2729, +358 40 544 2750, Mikko.Harma(at)ttl.fi

Programme www.ttl.fi/www2013 ,

Twitter #workhealth2013

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health researches, develops and specializes in well-being at work. It promotes occupational health and safety and the well-being of workers. It is an independent institution under public law, working under the administrative sector of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. It has six regional offices, and its headquarters are in Helsinki. It employs just under 800 people.

About Us

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (Työterveyslaitos) researches, develops and specializes in well-being at work. It promotes occupational health and safety and the well-being of workers. It is an independent institution under public law, working under the administrative sector of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. It has five regional offices, and its headquarters are in Helsinki. It employs about 560 people.

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