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Job dissatisfaction and the older worker: baseline findings from the Health and Employment After Fifty study
  1. Stefania D'Angelo1,2,
  2. David Coggon1,2,
  3. E Clare Harris1,2,
  4. Cathy Linaker1,2,
  5. Avan Aihie Sayer3,4,5,1,
  6. Catharine R Gale1,6,
  7. Maria Evandrou7,
  8. Tjeerd van Staa8,
  9. Cyrus Cooper1,2,
  10. Karen Walker-Bone1,2,
  11. Keith T Palmer1,2
  1. 1MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  2. 2Arthritis Research UK/MRC Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  3. 3NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care Wessex, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  4. 4Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  5. 5NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre, Newcastle University and Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  6. 6Department of Psychology, Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  7. 7Centre for Research on Ageing, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  8. 8Farr Institute, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Keith Palmer, Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK; ktp{at}


Objectives Demographic changes are requiring people to work longer. Labour force participation might be promoted by tackling sources of job dissatisfaction. We aimed to describe the epidemiology of job dissatisfaction in older British workers, to explore which perceptions of work contribute most importantly, and to assess possible impacts on health.

Methods Participants aged 50–64 years were recruited from 24 English general practices. At baseline, those currently in work (N=5437) reported on their demographic and employment circumstances, overall job satisfaction, perceptions of their work that might contribute to dissatisfaction, and their general health, mood and well-being. Associations of job dissatisfaction with risk factors and potential health outcomes were assessed cross-sectionally by logistic regression, and the potential contributions of different negative perceptions to overall dissatisfaction were summarised by population attributable fractions (PAFs).

Results Job dissatisfaction was more common among men, below age 60 years, those living in London and the South East, in the more educated and in those working for larger employers. The main contributors to job dissatisfaction among employees were feeling unappreciated and/or lacking a sense of achievement (PAF 55–56%), while in the self-employed, job insecurity was the leading contributor (PAF 79%). Job dissatisfaction was associated with all of the adverse health outcomes examined (ORs of 3–5), as were most of the negative perceptions of work that contributed to overall dissatisfaction.

Conclusions Employment policies aimed at improving job satisfaction in older workers may benefit from focussing particularly on relationships in the workplace, fairness, job security and instilling a sense of achievement.

  • satisfaction
  • employment

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