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O34-1 Understanding the relationships between chronic conditions and labour market participation in canada
  1. Peter Smith,
  2. Arif Jetha,
  3. Cynthia Chen,
  4. Amber Bielecky,
  5. Selahadin Ibrahim,
  6. Dorcas Beaton,
  7. Cameron Mustard
  1. Institute for Work and Health, Toronto, Canada


This presentation will describe results from two studies examining the impact of chronic conditions and labour market participation, using two different representative population data sets in Canada. The first study examined the relationship between seven physical chronic conditions and labour market participation in Canada between 2000 and 2005 using repeated cross-sectional data from the Canadian Community Health Surveys (N = 122,106). The second study created a dynamic longitudinal cohort from the Canadian National Population Health Survey, to examine the relationship between the initial incidence of five different conditions and labour market participation, both concurrently and two years later.

In the first study all conditions were associated with an increased probability of not being able to work due to health reasons. Heart disease was associated with the greatest probability of not working due to health reasons. Arthritis was associated with the largest population attributable fraction. In addition, particular combinations of chronic conditions (heart disease and diabetes; and arthritis and back pain) were associated with super-additive risks of not working. In the second study the onset of all conditions (with the exception of hypertension) was related to work loss concurrently (Time 1) and two year subsequently (Time 2). The relationship between chronic diseases and work loss at Time 2 was completely mediated through Time 1 work status.

The results of the first study demonstrate that chronic conditions are associated with labour market participation limitations, but to differing extents. Using a stronger longitudinal design, the second study demonstrates that chronic disease diagnosis is associated with immediate and prolonged work loss. Strategies to keep older workers in the labour market in Canada will need to address barriers to staying at work that result from the initiation and continued presence of chronic conditions, and particular combinations of conditions.

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