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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(4), 424;

Work Characteristics Associated with Physical Functioning in Women

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Drexel University, Dornsife School of Public Health, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Drexel University, Dornsife School of Public Health, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
Section on Public Health, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania PA 19104, USA
Veterans Affairs, Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
Department of Public Health Sciences, UC Davis School of Medicine, Sacramento, CA 95616, USA
Department of Epidemiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 January 2017 / Revised: 30 March 2017 / Accepted: 11 April 2017 / Published: 15 April 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Women’s Health and the Work Environment)
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Women make up almost half of the labor force with older women becoming a growing segment of the population. Work characteristics influence physical functioning and women are at particular risk for physical limitations. However, little research has explored the effects of work characteristics on women’s physical functioning. U.S. women between the ages of 50 and 79 were enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study between 1993 and 1998. Women provided job titles and years worked at their three longest-held jobs (n = 79,147). Jobs were linked to characteristics in the Occupational Information Network. Three categories of job characteristics related to substantive complexity, physical demand, and social collaboration emerged. The association between job characteristics and physical limitations in later life, measured using a SF-36 Physical Functioning score <25th percentile, was examined using modified Poisson regression. After controlling for confounding variables, high physical demand was positively associated with physical limitations (RR = 1.09 CI: 1.06–1.12) and substantively complex work was negatively associated (RR = 0.94, CI: 0.91–0.96). Jobs requiring complex problem solving, active learning, and critical thinking were associated with better physical functioning. Employers should explore opportunities to reduce strain from physically demanding jobs and incorporate substantively complex tasks into women’s work to improve long-term health. View Full-Text
Keywords: workplace; social environment; women’s health; physical function workplace; social environment; women’s health; physical function

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Palumbo, A.J.; De Roos, A.J.; Cannuscio, C.; Robinson, L.; Mossey, J.; Weitlauf, J.; Garcia, L.; Wallace, R.; Michael, Y. Work Characteristics Associated with Physical Functioning in Women. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 424.

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