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Is physically arduous work associated with limitations after retirement? Findings from the GAZEL cohort
  1. Alexis Descatha1,2,3,4,
  2. Eléonore Herquelot1,2,
  3. Matthieu Carton1,2,
  4. Erika L Sabbath5,
  5. Marcel Goldberg1,2,3,
  6. Marie Zins1,2,3,
  7. Annette Leclerc1,2,3
  1. 1Versailles St-Quentin University UVSQ, UMS 011, UMR-S 1168, Garches, France
  2. 2Population-based Epidemiologic Cohorts Unit, Inserm, UMS 011, Villejuif cedex, France
  3. 3Inserm, VIMA: Aging and chronic diseases, Epidemiological and public health approaches, U1168, F-94807, Villejuif cedex, France
  4. 4Occupational Health Unit, AP-HP (Paris Hospital), University hospital of West suburb of Paris, Garches, France
  5. 5Boston College, School of Social Work, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Alexis Descatha, Unité de pathologie professionnelle UMS011 UMR1168, CHU Poincaré, 104 bd Poincaré, Garches 92380, France; alexis.descatha{at}


Introduction In the context of delayed retirement age, we aimed to study the association between a score for global evaluation of perceived physical strain (PPS) at work and limitations after retirement in the GAZEL cohort.

Methods At baseline in 1989 and every year since then, the PPS question, ‘Do you find that your work is physically strenuous?’ was used as a proxy measure of general occupational physical exertion or load; it was coded into a score, and divided into four categories for men and three for women. The self-report question about limitations was asked in 1989 and 2012 (difficulties performing some daily life activities). Among men and women without limitations at baseline, relationships were studied between reported limitations in 2012 and a cumulative score based on PPS since 1989, allowing examination of the dose–effect relationship, and adjusted for age and perceived state of health at baseline.

Results From 1989 to 2012, 9326 participants without limitations at baseline were followed and filled out the 2012 questionnaire. In 2012, 12.1% of men (n=845) and 12.9% of women (n=302) reported limitations. Limitations in 2012 were associated with very high categorical PPS in men (OR 1.7 (1.4 to 2.2)) and high/very high categorical PPS in women (OR 1.6 (1.2 to 2.2)), with a significant trend.

Conclusions A positive association was found between preretirement physically arduous working conditions and limitations in daily activities after retirement. Findings offer a new insight for global evaluation of physical exposures during working life.

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