Introduction Several studies have reported an association between various psychosocial work factors and sickness absence. Much of the research has been conducted in Europe, leaving a significant knowledge gap about psychosocial exposures and outcomes in the US labour force. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of co-occurring low job control and high workplace discrimination on sickness absence in Black, Hispanic and White older adults aged 50 years and older participating in the US labour force.
Methods Using Health and Retirement Study data from 2010, regression models were used to examine the association between co-occurring low job control and high workplace discrimination, and health related work absence in the past year.
Results Mean number of missed days of work were similar for those with high job control, experiencing low workplace discrimination (ref), and those with low job control experiencing high workplace discrimination (11 days). Participants with high job control experiencing high discrimination, reported missing an average of 15.3 days. In unadjusted regression analysis low job control and high workplace discrimination was significantly associated with sickness absence in Hispanic (OR = 3.66) and Black (OR = 2.52) participants, while no association was evident in Whites. High control and high discrimination was associated with sickness absence in Blacks only in the unadjusted model (OR = 2.06, 95 CI = 1.11–3.811). Full adjustment for behavioural, sociodemographic, health, and work factors resulted in significant associations for Blacks with high job control experiencing high discrimination, who showed a 6.3-fold increased risk (95% CI = 1.26–31.511) of sickness absence. No associations were evident for Hispanic and White participants after adjustment for covariates.
Conclusions Workplace discrimination in Blacks working in high control jobs is strongly associated with sickness absence, and may further exacerbate well document health disparities. More research assessing effects of workplace discrimination and work environment on work and health outcomes is warranted.
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