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Longest held occupation in a lifetime and risk of disability in activities of daily living


OBJECTIVES To examine the association between the longest held occupation in a lifetime and risk of disability in activities of daily living (ADL) among elderly people (65 years and older) in northern Taiwan.

METHODS A case-control design was used nested within two cohorts of a total of 2198 elderly people who had been followed up either between 1993 and 1997 or between 1996 and 1997. Cases were 360 elderly people with ADL disability within the study period. For each case, two sex matched controls were randomly sampled from the pool of elderly people free from ADL disability. Occupational data were collected through interviews conducted in 1997. Performed job contents were classified into occupational categories and occupation based social classes. Unconditional logistic regression techniques were used to estimate relative risk and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) of ADL disability.

RESULTS Compared with people who were former legislators, government administrators, or business executives and managers, workers in agriculture, animal husbandry, forestry, or fishing (odds ratio (OR) 1.9, 95% CI 1.1 to 3.5) and workers in craft and related trades (OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.1 to 3.4) had significantly increased risks of subsequent ADL disability. Differential risks of ADL disability were found across social classes, with a significant dose-response trend in which unskilled blue collar workers had an 1.8 times higher risk of ADL disability than higher social classes of white collar workers.

CONCLUSIONS After adjustment for education, there was still an inverse relation between risk of ADL disability and social class. Although total control for all the known risk factors for ADL disability among elderly people was impossible, the results tend to suggest a potential for an effect of longest held occupation in a lifetime on risk of ADL disability.

  • activity of daily living
  • occupation
  • socioeconomic status

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