Chronic health conditions and work-related stress in older adults participating in the Dutch workforce

Introduction: The proportion of workers with chronic health conditions (CHC) will increase over the years as pension reform is increasing the age of retirement in many European countries. This will increase the percentage of older adults with CHC performing highly demanding work. This study sought to examine the association between the most prevalent CHC (cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, arthritis, respiratory and sleep disorders) and three domains of work stress in older Dutch workers.

Methods: This study used data from the first wave of the NIDI Pension Panel Study for working adults aged 60-65 years (n= 6,793). Logistic regression models examined the strength of association between CHC and 1) general work stress 2) emotional, and 3) physical demands.

Results: All 5 CHC were independently associated with one or more domains of stress. After including all CHC in the model CVD, sleep disorders, and arthritis were significantly associated with general stress. Respiratory disorders, sleep disorders, and arthritis were significantly associated with physical demands. Diabetes (1.25, 95%CI=1.01-1.53), sleep disorders (1.99, 95%CI=1.72-2.31), and arthritis (1.18, 95%CI=1.06-1.31) were significantly associated with emotional demands.

Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate that work stress is associated with prevalent chronic health conditions, and these conditions are differentially associated with several domains of work stress in adults approaching retirement. More research is needed to understand the causal relationship between CHC and work stress. Such research may provide insights for effective 3 workplace and public health interventions to ensure that older workers remain physically and mentally healthy, and productive through their working years.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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