Analysis of Job Strain and Loss of Healthy Life Years Between Ages 50 and 75

Poor psychosocial working conditions increase the likelihood of various types of morbidity and may substantially limit quality of life and possibilities to remain in paid work. To date, however, no studies to the authors' knowledge have quantified the extent to which poor psychosocial working conditions reduce healthy or chronic disease-free life expectancy, which was the focus of this study.

Data were derived from four cohorts with repeat data: the Finnish Public Sector Study (Finland), GAZEL (France), the Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health (Sweden), and Whitehall II (UK). Healthy (in good self-rated health) life expectancy (HLE) and chronic disease-free (free from cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease, and diabetes) life expectancy (CDFLE) was calculated from age 50 to 75 based on 64,394 individuals with data on job strain (high demands in combination with low control) at baseline and health at baseline and follow-up.

Multistate life table models showed that job strain was consistently related to shorter HLE (overall 1.7 years difference). The difference in HLE was more pronounced among men (2.0 years compared with 1.5 years for women) and participants in lower occupational positions (2.5 years among low-grade men compared with 1.7 years among high-grade men). Similar differences in HLE, although smaller, were observed among those in intermediate or high occupational positions. Job strain was additionally associated with shorter CDFLE, although this association was weaker and somewhat inconsistent.

These findings suggest that individuals with job strain have a shorter health expectancy compared with those without job strain.

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