Objectives To determine, using longitudinal analyses, if retirement is followed by a change in the risk of incident chronic diseases, depressive symptoms, and fatigue.
Design Prospective study with repeat measures from 7 years before to 7 years after retirement.
Setting Large French occupational cohort (the GAZEL study), 1989-2007.
Participants 11246 men and 2858 women.
Main outcome measures Respiratory disease, diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, mental fatigue, and physical fatigue, measured annually by self report over the 15 year observation period; depressive symptoms measured at four time points.
Results The average number of repeat measurements per participant was 12.1. Repeated measures logistic regression with generalised estimating equations showed that the cumulative prevalence of self reported respiratory disease, diabetes, and coronary heart disease and stroke increased with age, with no break in the trend around retirement. In contrast, retirement was associated with a substantial decrease in the prevalence of both mental fatigue (odds ratio for fatigue one year after versus one year before retirement 0.19, 95% confidence interval 0.18 to 0.21) and physical fatigue (0.27, 0.26 to 0.30). A major decrease was also observed in depressive symptoms (0.60, 0.53 to 0.67). The decrease in fatigue around retirement was more pronounced among people with a chronic disease before retirement.
Conclusions Longitudinal modelling of repeat data showed that retirement did not change the risk of major chronic diseases but was associated with a substantial reduction in mental and physical fatigue and depressive symptoms, particularly among people with chronic diseases.