Physical and psychosocial working conditions as predictors of 5-year changes in work ability among 2078 employees in Germany

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  • Hermann Burr
  • Stefanie Lange
  • Marion Freyer
  • Maren Formazin
  • Uwe Rose
  • Martin Lindhardt Nielsen
  • Conway, Paul Maurice

OBJECTIVE: To examine 5-year prospective associations between working conditions and work ability among employees in Germany.

METHODS: A cohort study (2011/2012-2017), based on a random sample of employees in employments subject to payment of social contributions aged 31-60 years (Study on Mental Health at Work; S-MGA; N = 2,078), included data on physical and quantitative demands, control (influence, possibilities for development, control over working time), relations (role clarity and leadership quality) and work ability (Work Ability Index, WAI; subscale 'subjective work ability and resources'). Data were analysed using linear regression.

RESULTS: Physical demands and control were associated with small 5-year changes in work ability (ΔR2 = 1%). Among the subgroup of employees with ≥ 25 sickness days, possibilities for development, control and quality of leadership were associated with changes in work ability (ΔR2 = 8%).

CONCLUSIONS: The impact of working conditions on long term changes in work ability seems to be negligible. However, in vulnerable subpopulations experiencing poor health, working conditions may be associated to a larger extent to work ability over this time span.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Pages (from-to)153-168
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

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