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BMC Public Health. 2012; 12: 309.
Published online Apr 26, 2012. doi:  10.1186/1471-2458-12-309
PMCID: PMC3438015
Working conditions as risk factors for disability retirement: a longitudinal register linkage study
Eero Lahelma,corresponding author1 Mikko Laaksonen,1,3 Tea Lallukka,1 Pekka Martikainen,2 Olli Pietiläinen,1 Peppiina Saastamoinen,1 Raija Gould,3 and Ossi Rahkonen1
1Hjelt Institute, Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2Department of Social Research, Population Research Unit, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
3Finnish Centre for Pensions, Helsinki, Finland
corresponding authorCorresponding author.
Eero Lahelma: eero.lahelma/at/helsinki.fi; Mikko Laaksonen: mikko.laaksonen/at/etk.fi; Tea Lallukka: tea.lallukka/at/helsinki.fi; Pekka Martikainen: pekka.martikainen/at/helsinki.fi; Olli Pietiläinen: olli.k.pietilainen/at/helsinki.fi; Peppiina Saastamoinen: peppiina.saastamoinen/at/helsinki.fi; Raija Gould: raija.gould/at/etk.fi; Ossi Rahkonen: ossi.rahkonen/at/helsinki.fi
Received December 5, 2011; Accepted April 26, 2012.
Abstract
Background
Early retirement due to disability is a public health and work environment problem that shortens working careers. Transition to disability retirement is based on ill-health, but working conditions are also of relevance. We examined the contributions of work arrangements, physical working conditions and psychosocial working conditions to subsequent disability retirement.
Methods
The data were derived from the Helsinki Health Study cohort on employees of the City of Helsinki, Finland. Information on working conditions was obtained from the baseline surveys conducted in 2000, 2001 and 2002. These data were linked with register data on disability retirement and their main diagnoses obtained from the Finnish Centre for Pensions. Follow up by the end of 2008 yielded 525 disability retirement events. The analysed data included 6525 participants and 525 disability retirement events. Hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated from Cox regression analysis.
Results
Several working conditions showed own associations with disability retirement before adjustment. After adjustment for all working conditions, the primary risk factors for all-cause disability retirement were physical workload among women (HR 2.02, 95% CI 1.57-2.59) and men (HR 2.00, 95% CI 1.18-3.38), and low job control among women (HR 1.60, 95% CI 1.29-1.99). In addition, for disability retirement due to musculoskeletal causes, the risk factors were physical workload and low job control. For disability retirement due to mental causes the risk factors were computer work and low job control. Furthermore, occupational class was a risk factor for disability retirement due to all causes and musculoskeletal diseases.
Conclusions
Among various working conditions, those that are physically demanding and those that imply low job control are potential risk factors for disability retirement. Improving the physical working environment and enhancing control over one’s job is likely to help prevent early retirement due to disability.
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