Introduction Active jobs, which are the combination of high job demand and high job control based on Karasek’s Demand-Control model, have been found to be associated with better cognitive functioning by a couple of longitudinal studies. However, the evidence from Germany is still lacking. The purpose of our study is to analyse the associations of active jobs and cognitive functioning based on large German working population.
Methods We used data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (G-SOEP) Study with national representativeness. Two well-established cognitive tests (perceptual speed and word fluency) were applied in both 2006 and 2012. Psychosocial work conditions in terms of demand and control were measured in 2001. In total, longitudinal data from 1903 employees during follow-up 2001–2006, and from 1226 employees during follow-up 2001–2012 were available for current analyses. Multivariate linear regression was applied to examine longitudinal associations of psychosocial work conditions with cognitive functioning, adjusted for relevant covariates.
Results Overall, in this study sample (mean age 42.24 years, ranged 18–64 at baseline), participants with active jobs in 2001 exhibited the highest cognitive performance in 2006 and in 2012 compared to participants with passive jobs (low demand and low control), after adjustment for demographics, socioeconomic status, lifestyle behaviours, and health at baseline. Specifically, perceptual speed was higher 2.27 units (95% confidence interval, CI: 0.54 to 4.00) in 2006, and 1.96 units (95% CI: 0.77 to 3.16) in 2012; word fluency was higher 1.99 units (95% CI=0.27, 3.72) in 2006, and 3.55 units (95% CI: 1.15 to 5.95) in 2012.
Conclusion This study demonstrates a protective effect of active jobs, defined as high demand and high control, on two aspects of cognitive functioning over an 11 year period. Further research is needed to determine the possible mechanisms and interventions, to maintain cognitive functions of employees.
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