Scand J Work Environ Health 1997;23 suppl 1:20-26    pdf

Life-style, aging and work ability among active Finnish workers in 1981--1992

by Seitsamo J, Ilmarinen J

Objectives Life-style is an important factor in explaining the changes in health and well-being in old age. In this study life-style was defined according to Abel's definition as combining life chances and life conduct. The main question concerned the change in life-style components and work ability over a 11-year period.

Methods The study population comprised workers who responded to a questionnaire in both 1981 and 1992 and were still working in 1992 (N = 924). The changes in the dimensions of life-style (hobbies, living habits, life satisfaction) were tested with Pearson's chi-square test. The associations between life-style, work ability, and health were analyzed by correspondence analysis.

Results Physical activity was the life-style factor that showed a major change; it increased among both genders. All other leisure-time activities decreased during the follow-up. The women's satisfaction with their life situation increased, but the men were less satisfied at the end of the study. Work ability, as measured with the work ability index, was a crucial factor in these changes. If the work ability remained good, the respondents were also more active and more satisfied with their life. This effect of work ability was strong, especially with respect to the men's satisfaction with their life situation.

Conclusion Life-style, work ability, and perceived health are highly associated, and studying them separately may give a simplistic view of the interaction between aging and work. In the future, more comprehensive approaches should be applied.

The following articles refer to this text: 2002;28(3):184-190; 2007;33(5):351-357