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Special Issue "Sustainable Work Ability and Aging"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Occupational Safety and Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Nygård Clas-Håkan

Health Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, PB 100, FI-33014, University of Tampere
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +358 50 5865959
Interests: occupational health; aging and work; occupational gerontology; strain at work; work ability and promotion of health and work ability; ergonomics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In many industrialized countries, there is a sharp increase of the aging population due to a decrease in fertility and an increase in life expectancy. Due to that, the age dependency ratio rises and may cause increased economic burden on the productive part of the population. One strategy to combat this is to prolong peoples working lives. A sufficient work ability is a requirement for a sustainable and prolonged employment. Work ability is primarily a question of balance between work and personal resources. Personal resources change with age, whereas work demands may not change parallel to that, or only change due to globalization or new technology. Work ability, on average, decreases with age, although several different work ability trajectories exist during the life course. Work-related factors, as well as general lifestyle, may explain the declines and improvements in work ability during aging. A sustainable work ability throughout the life course is a main incentive for a prolonged working live. Work ability and work-related factors, are therefore important occupational and public health issues when the age of a population increases.

This Special Issue, “Sustainable Work Ability and Aging”, offers an opportunity to publish high quality, multi-disciplinary work ability research. We are particularly interested in work ability research related to longitudinal studies, determinants, interventions, life course, older employees, prolonged work career, and any other interesting and important aspects of work ability.

Prof. Nygård Clas-Håkan
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • work ability
  • interventions
  • life course
  • aging
  • longitudinal studies
  • prolonged work career
  • elderly workers
  • sustainability

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
A Sustainable Career Perspective of Work Ability: The Importance of Resources across the Lifespan
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(14), 2572; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16142572
Received: 31 May 2019 / Revised: 12 July 2019 / Accepted: 16 July 2019 / Published: 18 July 2019
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Abstract
In this study, we examine employees’ perceptions of their work ability from a sustainable career perspective. Specifically, we investigate the role of a person’s perceived current fit (i.e., autonomy, strengths use and needs-supply fit), and future fit with their job as resources that [...] Read more.
In this study, we examine employees’ perceptions of their work ability from a sustainable career perspective. Specifically, we investigate the role of a person’s perceived current fit (i.e., autonomy, strengths use and needs-supply fit), and future fit with their job as resources that affect perceived work ability, defined as the extent to which employees feel capable of continuing their current work over a longer time period. In addition, we test whether meaningfulness of one’s work mediates this relationship, and we address the moderating role of age. Our hypotheses were tested using a sample of 5205 employees working in diverse sectors in Belgium. The results of multi-group Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) provide mixed evidence for our hypotheses. While all four resources were significantly and positively related to perceived meaningfulness, only needs-supply fit was positively related to perceived work ability. Strengths use, on the other hand, was also significantly related to perceived work ability, yet in a negative way. These findings underscore the importance of distinguishing between several types of resources to understand their impact upon perceived work ability. Interestingly, the relationship between future-orientedness of the job and perceived work ability was moderated by age, with the relationship only being significant and positive for middle-aged and senior workers. This suggests an increasingly important role of having a perspective of future fit with one’s job as employees grow older. Contrary to our expectations, meaningfulness did not mediate the relationships between resources and perceived work ability. We discuss these findings and their implications from the perspective of sustainable career development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Work Ability and Aging)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Intention to Retire in Employees over 50 Years. What is the Role of Work Ability and Work Life Satisfaction?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(14), 2500; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16142500
Received: 27 June 2019 / Revised: 10 July 2019 / Accepted: 11 July 2019 / Published: 13 July 2019
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Abstract
Background: We investigated work ability and trajectories of work life satisfaction (WLS) as predictors of intention to retire (ITR) before the statutory age. Methods: Participants were Finnish postal service employees, who responded to surveys in 2016 and 2018 (n = 1466). Survey measures [...] Read more.
Background: We investigated work ability and trajectories of work life satisfaction (WLS) as predictors of intention to retire (ITR) before the statutory age. Methods: Participants were Finnish postal service employees, who responded to surveys in 2016 and 2018 (n = 1466). Survey measures included ITR, work ability and WLS. Mixture modelling was used to identify trajectories of WLS. A generalized linear model was used to determine the measures of association (Risk Ratios, RR; 95% Confidence Intervals, CI) between exposures (work ability and WLS) and ITR. Results: Approximately 40% of respondents indicated ITR. Four distinct trajectories of WLS were identified: high (33%), moderate (35%), decreasing (23%) and low (9%). Participants with poor work ability (RR 1.79, 95% CI 1.40–2.29) and decreasing WLS (1.29, 1.13–1.46) were more likely to indicate an ITR early compared to the participants with excellent/good work ability and high WLS. Job control mediated the relationship between ITR and work ability (9.3%) and WLS (14.7%). Job support also played a similar role (14% and 20.6%). Conclusions: Work ability and WLS are important contributors to the retirement intentions of employees. Ensuring workers have appropriate support and control over their work are mechanisms through which organisations may encourage employees to remain at work for longer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Work Ability and Aging)
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Open AccessArticle
What Are the Key Workplace Influences on Pathways of Work Ability? A Six-Year Follow Up
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(13), 2363; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16132363
Received: 5 June 2019 / Revised: 20 June 2019 / Accepted: 26 June 2019 / Published: 3 July 2019
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Abstract
Objective: To study the trajectories of work ability and investigate the impact of multisite pain and working conditions on pathways of work ability over a six-year period. Methods: The longitudinal study was conducted with Finnish food industry workers (n = 866) with [...] Read more.
Objective: To study the trajectories of work ability and investigate the impact of multisite pain and working conditions on pathways of work ability over a six-year period. Methods: The longitudinal study was conducted with Finnish food industry workers (n = 866) with data collected every 2 years from 2003–2009. Questions covered musculoskeletal pain, physical and psychosocial working conditions (physical strain, repetitive movements, awkward postures; mental strain, team support, leadership, possibility to influence) and work ability. Latent class growth analysis and logistic regression were used to analyse the impact of multisite pain and working conditions on work ability trajectories (pathways). Results: Three trajectories of work ability emerged: decreasing (5%), increasing (5%), and good (90%). In the former two trajectories, the mean score of work ability changed from good to poor and poor to good during follow-up, while in the latter, individuals maintained good work ability during the follow-up. In the multivariable adjusted model, number of pain sites was significantly associated with higher odds of belonging to the trajectory of poor work ability (Odds ratio (OR) 4 pain sites 2.96, 1.25–7.03). Conclusions: A substantial number of employees maintained good work ability across the follow up. However, for employees with poor work ability, multisite musculoskeletal pain has an important influence, with effective prevention strategies required to reduce its prevalence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Work Ability and Aging)
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Open AccessArticle
Validation of a Short-Form Version of the Danish Need for Recovery Scale against the Full Scale
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(13), 2334; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16132334
Received: 10 May 2019 / Revised: 21 June 2019 / Accepted: 25 June 2019 / Published: 2 July 2019
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Abstract
Introduction: The Need for Recovery (NFR) Scale facilitates the understanding of the factors that can lead to sustainable working and employability. Short-form scales can reduce the burden on researchers and respondents. Our aim was to create and validate a short-form Danish version of [...] Read more.
Introduction: The Need for Recovery (NFR) Scale facilitates the understanding of the factors that can lead to sustainable working and employability. Short-form scales can reduce the burden on researchers and respondents. Our aim was to create and validate a short-form Danish version of the NFR Scale. Methods: Two datasets were used to conduct the exploratory and confirmatory analyses. This was done using qualitative and quantitative methods. The exploratory phase identified several short-form versions of the Danish NFR Scale and evaluated the quality of each through the assessment of content, construct and criterion validity, and responsiveness. These evaluations were then verified through the confirmatory analysis, using the second dataset. Results: A short-form NFR scale consisting of three items (exhausted at the end of a work day, hard to find interest in other people after a work day, it takes over an hour to fully recover from a work day) showed excellent validity and responsiveness compared to the nine-item scale. Furthermore, a short-form consisting of just two items also showed excellent validity and good responsiveness. Conclusion: A short-form NFR scale, consisting of three items from the Danish NFR Scale, seems to be an appropriate substitute for the full nine-item scale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Work Ability and Aging)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Stress on the Work Ability of Aging American Workers: Mediating Effects of Health
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(13), 2273; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16132273
Received: 29 May 2019 / Revised: 20 June 2019 / Accepted: 24 June 2019 / Published: 27 June 2019
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Abstract
We examined how stress affects the work ability of an aging workforce, how health mediates this relationship, and how the effects of stress on work ability differ in relation to social status. We analyzed data from the Health and Retirement Survey, namely, 2921 [...] Read more.
We examined how stress affects the work ability of an aging workforce, how health mediates this relationship, and how the effects of stress on work ability differ in relation to social status. We analyzed data from the Health and Retirement Survey, namely, 2921 observations in 2010, 2289 observations in 2012, and 2276 observations in 2014. Ongoing chronic stress, social status, health status, and associations with individual work ability were assessed with ordinary least squares regression. Stress was significantly inversely associated with work ability. Health may function as a mediator between individual stress and work ability. The effects of stress and health on work ability decreased as social status increased. To cope with the challenges of aging workforces, future policy-makers should consider job resources and social status. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Work Ability and Aging)
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Open AccessArticle
Work Ability and Vitality in Coach Drivers: An RCT to Study the Effectiveness of a Self-Management Intervention during the Peak Season
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(12), 2214; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16122214
Received: 13 May 2019 / Revised: 12 June 2019 / Accepted: 20 June 2019 / Published: 22 June 2019
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Abstract
Background: This randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluates the effectiveness of a self-management toolbox designed to maintain work ability and vitality in coach drivers over their peak season. Methods: The intervention group received a self-management intervention providing advice aimed at increasing work [...] Read more.
Background: This randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluates the effectiveness of a self-management toolbox designed to maintain work ability and vitality in coach drivers over their peak season. Methods: The intervention group received a self-management intervention providing advice aimed at increasing work ability and vitality. These suggestions targeted three specific domains: work–recovery–rest balance, food and drink intake, and physical activity. At the beginning (March), middle (July), and end (October) of the coach sector peak season, work ability, vitality, work-related fatigue, psychosomatic health, sleep complaints, and perceived mental exertion of coach drivers were assessed through questionnaires. Results: A total of 96 drivers participated in the study. Access to the toolbox did not result in significant differences between groups. Work ability and vitality decreased significantly in both groups, falling from 7.8 ± 1.3 to 7.3 ± 1.6 and from 63 ± 16.7 to 55 ± 18.7, respectively. Work-related fatigue increased from 35 ± 31.9 to 52 ± 35.3. Psychosomatic health complaints, sleep complaints, and perceived mental exertion also increased significantly. Conclusions: The uptake of the intervention was too low to determine if this toolbox can maintain work ability and vitality in coach drivers when compared with a control group. Overall work ability and vitality decrease significantly as the peak season progresses, while work-related fatigue accumulates. Other interventions should be explored to ensure sustainable employability in this population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Work Ability and Aging)
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Open AccessArticle
Work-Related Exposures and Sickness Absence Trajectories: A Nationally Representative Follow-up Study among Finnish Working-Aged People
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(12), 2099; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16122099
Received: 18 May 2019 / Revised: 11 June 2019 / Accepted: 11 June 2019 / Published: 13 June 2019
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Abstract
The contribution of physically demanding work to the developmental trajectories of sickness absence (SA) has seldom been examined. We analyzed the associations of 12 physical work exposures, individually and in combination, with SA trajectories among the occupationally active in the Finnish nationally representative [...] Read more.
The contribution of physically demanding work to the developmental trajectories of sickness absence (SA) has seldom been examined. We analyzed the associations of 12 physical work exposures, individually and in combination, with SA trajectories among the occupationally active in the Finnish nationally representative Health 2000 survey. We included 3814 participants aged 30–59 years at baseline, when exposure history to work-related factors was reported. The survey and interview responses were linked with the annual number of medically confirmed SA spells through 2002–2008 from national registries. Trajectory analyses identified three SA subgroups: 1 = low (54.6%), 2 = slowly increasing (33.7%), and 3 = high (11.7%). After adjustments, sitting or use of keyboard >1 year was inversely associated with the high SA trajectory (odds ratio, OR, 0.57; 95% 95% confidence interval, CI, 0.43–0.77). The odds of belonging to the trajectory of high SA increased with an increasing number of risk factors, and was highest for those with ≥4 physical workload factors (OR 2.71; 95% CI 1.99–3.69). In conclusion, these findings highlight the need to find ways to better maintain the work ability of those in physically loading work, particularly when there occurs exposure to several workload factors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Work Ability and Aging)
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Open AccessArticle
Impact of Job Demands and Resources on Nurses’ Burnout and Occupational Turnover Intention Towards an Age-Moderated Mediation Model for the Nursing Profession
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(11), 2011; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16112011
Received: 31 March 2019 / Revised: 28 May 2019 / Accepted: 30 May 2019 / Published: 5 June 2019
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Abstract
This longitudinal study among Registered Nurses has four purposes: (1) to investigate whether emotional, quantitative and physical demands, and family-work conflict have a negative impact on nurses’ perceived effort; (2) to investigate whether quality of leadership, developmental opportunities, and social support from supervisors [...] Read more.
This longitudinal study among Registered Nurses has four purposes: (1) to investigate whether emotional, quantitative and physical demands, and family-work conflict have a negative impact on nurses’ perceived effort; (2) to investigate whether quality of leadership, developmental opportunities, and social support from supervisors and colleagues have a positive impact on meaning of work; (3) to investigate whether burnout from the combined impact of perceived effort and meaning of work mediates the relationship with occupational turnover intention; and (4) whether the relationships in our overall hypothesized framework are moderated by age (nurses categorized under 40 years versus ≥ 40 years old). In line with our expectations, emotional, quantitative, and physical demands, plus family-work conflict appeared to increase levels of perceived effort. Quality of leadership, developmental opportunities, and social support from supervisors and colleagues increased the meaning of work levels. In addition, increased perceived stress resulted in higher burnout levels, while increased meaning of work resulted in decreased burnout levels. Finally, higher burnout levels appeared to lead to a higher occupational turnover intention. Obviously, a nursing workforce that is in good physical and psychological condition is only conceivable when health care managers protect the employability of their nursing staff, and when there is a dual responsibility for a sustainable workforce. Additionally, thorough attention for the character of job demands and job resources according to nurses’ age category is necessary in creating meaningful management interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Work Ability and Aging)
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Open AccessArticle
A Cognitive Behavioural Intervention Programme to Improve Psychological Well-Being
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(1), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16010080
Received: 12 November 2018 / Revised: 21 December 2018 / Accepted: 23 December 2018 / Published: 29 December 2018
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Abstract
Psychosocial risk factors have increased in today’s work environment, and they threaten work ability. Good workplace atmosphere, psychosocial support, the ability to cope with stress, and skills and knowledge are all connected to more successful coping. Faster changes in the work environment and [...] Read more.
Psychosocial risk factors have increased in today’s work environment, and they threaten work ability. Good workplace atmosphere, psychosocial support, the ability to cope with stress, and skills and knowledge are all connected to more successful coping. Faster changes in the work environment and an increased workload can lead to a chain of fatigue and illness. The aim of this study was to evaluate a cognitive behavioural intervention as an early rehabilitation strategy to improve employees’ well-being, in intervention group N446 and in control group N116. The well-being measures used were the Bergen Burnout Inventory (BBI 15), Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES), and depression and stress screening questions. Data were obtained by a self-report survey at baseline and at a nine-month follow-up. Differences were analysed within and between groups. The results suggest that cognitive behavioural intervention as an early rehabilitation programme will increase employees’ well-being measured by BBI 15, UWES, and depression and stress screening questions. In the intervention group, the total BBI 15 score (p < 0.01) and each of the three subdimensions of burnout (exhaustion, cynicism, and sense of inadequacy) decreased at follow-up. Mental health issues are the commonest reasons for sick leave and early retirement. We need ways to prevent these issues. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Work Ability and Aging)
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Open AccessArticle
Age Differences in Work Stress, Exhaustion, Well-Being, and Related Factors From an Ecological Perspective
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(1), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16010050
Received: 22 November 2018 / Revised: 15 December 2018 / Accepted: 23 December 2018 / Published: 25 December 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (362 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The aim of this study was to examine the association of work stress, exhaustion, well-being, and related individual, organizational, and social factors, focusing especially on age differences in Taiwan. The data were from the 2015 Taiwan Social Change Survey. The participants were community-based [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to examine the association of work stress, exhaustion, well-being, and related individual, organizational, and social factors, focusing especially on age differences in Taiwan. The data were from the 2015 Taiwan Social Change Survey. The participants were community-based adults, aged 18 years or older, selected via stratified multistage proportional probability sampling from the Taiwanese population. Well-being was measured by self-rated health and psychological health. Descriptive analysis, one-way analysis of variance, and linear regression analysis were used. Work stresses were related to three types of exhaustion, and exhaustion was related to well-being. Individual working style (being creative and using new methods), organizational factors (job satisfaction, work-family conflict, discrimination against women), and social factors (difficult finding a good job than older cohorts) were related to well-being. Older age was related to worse self-rated health, and age showed a reverse-U-shaped relation with psychological health. The resilience of older workers could be an opportunity for the global active aging trend, and interventions to support older workers in organizations would be beneficial. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Work Ability and Aging)
Open AccessArticle
Older Worker Identity and Job Performance: The Moderator Role of Subjective Age and Self-Efficacy
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(12), 2731; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15122731
Received: 5 October 2018 / Revised: 24 October 2018 / Accepted: 30 November 2018 / Published: 3 December 2018
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Abstract
Older Worker Identity consists of the internalization of negative beliefs and attitudes towards aged employees by these same people. This research aims to explore the moderator role both of subjective age and self-efficacy in the relationship between older worker identity and job performance. [...] Read more.
Older Worker Identity consists of the internalization of negative beliefs and attitudes towards aged employees by these same people. This research aims to explore the moderator role both of subjective age and self-efficacy in the relationship between older worker identity and job performance. The study was conducted with a panel design, including a sample of +40 Spanish workers (n = 200), with two waves (4-months interval). The findings supported the moderator role of subjective age in the relationship, while it failed to support the moderator role of self-efficacy. These findings underline that workers who actively manage their subjective age perceptions could age successfully at work. The implications of this study for counseling practices are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Work Ability and Aging)
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Other

Jump to: Research

Open AccessOpinion
From Work Ability Research to Implementation
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(16), 2882; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16162882
Received: 12 June 2019 / Revised: 2 August 2019 / Accepted: 3 August 2019 / Published: 12 August 2019
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Abstract
Work ability research started in Finland in the 1990s due to the challenges of work force aging. The employment rates of older workers (55+) were below 40% and early retirement and work disability rates were rather common in many European countries. The work [...] Read more.
Work ability research started in Finland in the 1990s due to the challenges of work force aging. The employment rates of older workers (55+) were below 40% and early retirement and work disability rates were rather common in many European countries. The work ability concept and methods were developed and broad international research activities started in the 1990s. A comprehensive promotion model for work ability was created aiming to prevent work ability from declining during aging. However, to be able to impact the work ability is a complicated and difficult task, and requires effects on human resources, work arrangements, and management. Therefore, only a limited number of intervention studies have shown an improvement of work ability during aging. This article introduces some possibilities regarding how to make work ability interventions more successful. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Work Ability and Aging)
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