Opinion

Scand J Work Environ Health Online-first -article    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.3828

Health and prolonging working lives: an advisory report of the Health Council of The Netherlands

by van der Mark-Reeuwijk KG, Weggemans RM, Bültmann U, Burdorf A, Deeg DJH, Geuskens GA, Henkens KCJIM, Kant I, de Lange A, Lindeboom M, van Rhenen W, van der Beek AJ

Objective This opinion paper summarizes the main findings and recommendations of an advisory report on health and prolonging working life, which was requested by the Dutch Minister of Social Affairs and Employment.

Methods The advisory report was compiled by a multidisciplinary committee of ten scientists appointed by the Health Council of The Netherlands. The committee`s aims were to (i) describe the health of the ageing population, (ii) describe how prolonging working life influences health, (iii) describe determinants, besides health, for prolonging working lives, and (iv) review the literature on interventions aimed at retaining or improving employability of older workers.

Results The report was presented to the Minister on 26 June 2018. As the likelihood of health problems increases with age, prolonging working life may be difficult. In general, life expectancy increases and gains in life years and health seem mainly attributable to people aged >75 years. Work is good for mental health. However, it may be beneficial for mental health to stop working around the retirement age. Besides health, financial factors, lifestyle, motivation to work, and working conditions play a role in prolonging working life. A systematic review of the evidence indicated that interventions such as worksite health promotion or career development workshops can support older workers in this matter.

Conclusions The Health Council advised the Dutch Government to focus on worksite health promotion and career development interventions as well as the improvement of their implementation. This requires a tailored approach as there is a large diversity in health among older workers and particularly between low- and high-educated people. With this in mind, it was further recommended to explore whether flexible pension schemes might better suit this diversity.

This article refers to the following texts of the Journal: 2013;39(1):66-75  2013;39(2):134-143  2013;39(3):233-240  2014;40(5):473-482