Introduction Early functional ageing – EFA is the progressive work ability – WA impairment preceding the chronological ageing. Hospital work is characterised by physical and mental workloads arising from work stressors that can influence functional ageing. The aim of this follow-up study was to assess the association between psychosocial work stressors and functional ageing in a group of Brazilian hospital employees.
Methods This is a 3 year follow-up (2009–2012) study of 423 hospital workers of São Paulo, Brazil. We included only workers with excellent/good WA at the baseline. At baseline workers filled a form on sociodemographic, lifestyle, and occupational questions including the Brazilian versions of Job Stress Scale, Effort-Reward Questionnaire, Work-Related Activities That May Contribute To Job-Related Pain and/or Injury, and Work Ability Index. Moderate/poor WA were considered as EFA. Changes from excellent/good to moderate/poor WA were the dependent variable. We used logistic regression models adjusted for potential confounders.
Results The average age was 36.0 y (SD=8.3), 30.7% were over 40 y, 72.1% were females. At the end of follow-up the exposure to work stressors had worsened: job strain (20.3%), social support (22.7%), effort-reward imbalance (18.7%), overcommitment (18.4%) and Work-Related Activities That May Contribute To Job-Related Pain and/or Injury (13.9%). Eighteen percent of the workers shifted to moderate or poor WA. High levels of exposure to psychosocial work stressors were significantly associated with decreased work ability: job strain (OR=2.81) and effort-reward imbalance (OR=3.21).
Discussion Work stressors were risk factors for work ability. The results showed the need for interventions to maintain hospital employees’ work ability. Such strategies have implications for institutional and social policies to prevent early functional ageing.