Health of the older worker in Ireland - occupational physical and psychosocial factors in the autumn of work life

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McCarthy, Jane Veronica
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University College Cork
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Introduction: Worldwide, governments are striving to keep people in work to an older age. However, little is known about the effects of work on an older workforce. This thesis aims to investigate the importance of job characteristics to the antecedents and evolution of cardiovascular disease and functional limitations for the older worker (50+ years). Methods: Three studies were used in this thesis. The 5C (Cork Coronary Care Case- Control) Study investigated the association between job strain and a coronary event in males (n=208) 35-74 years old. The Mitchelstown Study examined the association between job characteristics and positive lifestyle behaviours and further, job characteristics and blood pressure for males and females 50-69 years (n=2,047). Finally, the Cork & Kerry Study investigated the physical effects of manual work and reported functional limitations/disabilities in a sample of 60-80 year olds (n=362). Results: Results from the 5C Study show a clear difference between younger (<50 years) and older (≥50 years) workers, with older workers who had a coronary event more likely to have high job strain and low job control. Data from the Mitchelstown Study showed workers with intermediate possibility for development or high quantitative demands (versus low) at work significantly more likely to have co-occurrence of positive lifestyle behaviours. Further, those who had high possibility for development were more likely to have high systolic blood pressure with no indication of recovery from this activation at night. Physically demanding work as reported by the participants of the Cork & Kerry Study was associated with functional limitations and activities of daily living disability for both the paid and unpaid worker. Discussion: The findings from this piece of work highlight the necessity to examine job characteristics and health outcomes in isolation for the over fifties. The challenge is to get this information into the workplace.
Physical Work , Psychosocial job characteristics , Disability , Lifestyle behaviours , Cardiovascular health , Occupational health , Older worker , Ambulatory blood pressure , Physical work
McCarthy, J. V. 2014. Health of the older worker in Ireland - occupational physical and psychosocial factors in the autumn of work life. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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