Objectives To prospectively assess if a change in self-reported work factors among young male and female adults relate to a change in self-reported work ability.
Methods From a cohort of young Swedish people (20–24 years) a sample of 1311 was selected. A postal questionnaire at baseline and at 1 year follow-up asked for several physical and psychosocial work factors and current work ability rating (WAI-1). With prevalence ratios the relation between changed work factors and changed work ability (>2 points) was calculated.
Results Decreased work ability was found to have a relation with decreased job control (PR 1.9, 95% CI 1.61 to 2.23), increased influence on private life due to work demands (PR 1.6, 95% CI 1.36 to 1.86), decreased social support (PR 1.4, 95% CI 1.22 to 1.67) and decreased effort-reward balance (1.3, 95% CI 1.08 to 1.49), found for both sexes. For females, increased work outside the workplace and increased noise annoyance also decreased their work ability. For increased work ability, relations were found for increased social support (PR 2.1, 95% CI 1.58 to 2.85), increased job control (PR 2.1, 95% CI 1.51 to 2.95), increased effort-reward balance (PR 1.7, 95% CI 1.29 to 2.19) and decreased influence on private life due to work demands (PR 1.6, 95% CI 1.28 to 2.12), found for females. Furthermore, decreased time with hands over shoulder level (PR 1.5 95% CI 1.11 to 2.10) increased the work ability for males.
Conclusions Several changes in psychosocial work factors among young females and males workers were related to changes in work ability, suggesting possibilities for prevention and promotion of work ability.
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