Morbidities among older workers and work exit: the HEAF cohort.
Walker-Bone K., D'Angelo S., Linaker CH., Stevens MJ., Ntani G., Cooper C., Syddall HE.
BACKGROUND: Governments need people to work to older ages, but the prevalence of chronic disease and comorbidity increases with age and impacts work ability. AIMS: To investigate the effects of objective health diagnoses on exit from paid work amongst older workers. METHODS: Health and Employment After Fifty (HEAF) is a population cohort of adults aged 50-64 years recruited from English GP practices which contribute to the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD). Participants have completed questionnaires about health and work at baseline and annually for 2 years: their responses were linked with their objective health diagnoses from the CPRD and data analysed using Cox regression. RESULTS: Of 4888 HEAF participants ever in paid work, 580 (25%) men and 642 (25%) women exited employment, 277 of them mainly or partly for a health reason (health-related job loss (HRJL)). Amongst HEAF participants who remained in work (n = 3666) or who exited work but not for health reasons (n = 945), there was a similar prevalence of background health conditions. In men and women, HRJL was associated with inflammatory arthritis, sleep disorders, common mental health conditions and musculoskeletal pain. There were however gender differences: widespread pain and lower limb osteoarthritis were associated with HRJL in women but hypertension and cardiovascular disease in men. CONCLUSIONS: Improved diagnosis and management of common conditions might be expected to increase working lives. Workplace well-being interventions targeting obesity and increasing mobility might contribute to extended working lives. Employers of predominantly female, as compared with male workforces may need different strategies to retain older workers.