Introduction Most literature on psychosocial occupational characteristics and their effects on health have been based on studies outside the U.S., leaving a significant knowledge gap about psychosocial exposures and outcomes in the U.S. labour force. Low job control has been posited as a potential risk factor for type 2 diabetes, however most of the research has focused on younger adult workers. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of baseline job control on incident diabetes over a 7-year period, in a sample of older adults aged 50 years and older participating in the US labour force.
Methods Using Health and Retirement Study data from 2006–2012 Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to estimate the risk of incident diabetes according to perceived job control at baseline in 1,391 adults.
Results In comparison to high job control, working in low control jobs was associated with a 66% (95% CI = 1.17–2.36) increased risk of diabetes after adjustment for behavioural, socioeconomic and occupational factors. Stratification by gender indicated that women had a 72% increased risk (95% CI = 1.08–2.98), while men showed a 77% increased risk (95% CI = 1.03–2.89) of incident diabetes. Risk was highest in participants who were racial minorities, obese, less educated, worked long hours, and those who were not married.
Conclusions Low job control is a risk factor for incident diabetes in older adults participating in the workforce. Interventions which take into account the dynamics and psychosocial aspects of work culture in America should be explored, particularly for adults nearing or surpassing the age of retirement.
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