The aim of this study was to examine the association between mental health and recommended food habits among employed middle-aged women and men. A mail survey including data on mental health and intake of food items was collected from 40 to 60-year-old women (n=4991) and men (n=1252) employed by the City of Helsinki. The participants' current mental health status was assessed by the General Health Questionnaire 12-item version and categorised into 'poor' (score 3-12) and 'normal' mental health (score 0-2). Multivariable logistic regression analyses were conducted using this categorisation as an independent variable to predict recommended food habits among women and men. All analyses first adjusted for age and lifetime mental diagnosis, secondly socio-economic status variables, and thirdly health behaviours. Women having poor mental health were less likely than their healthier counterparts to report consuming fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, low-fat milk and low-fat cheese on a daily basis, and cereals or porridge at least five times a week. Men having poor mental health reported consuming less frequently fresh fruits and dark bread. Except for cereals and dark bread, these results remained statistically significant in the fully adjusted model. The results suggest that poor mental health is associated with unhealthy food habits.
To examine the associations of mental health functioning with intentions to retire early among ageing municipal employees.
Cross-sectional survey data (n = 7,765) from the Helsinki Health Study in 2000, 2001, and 2002 were used. Intentions to retire early were sought with a question: "Have you considered retiring before normal retirement age?" The dependent variable was divided into three categories: 1 = no intentions to retire early; 2 = weak intentions; 3 = strong intentions. Mental health functioning was measured by the Short Form 36 (SF-36) mental component summary (MCS). Other variables included age, sex, physical health functioning (SF-36), limiting longstanding illness, socioeconomic status, and spouse's employment status. Multinomial regression analysis was used to examine the association of mental health functioning with intentions to retire early.
Employees with the poorest mental health functioning were much more likely to report strong intentions to retire early (OR 6.09, 95% CI 4.97-7.47) than those with the best mental health functioning. Adjustments for physical health, socioeconomic status, and spouse's employment status did not substantially affect this association.
The findings highlight the importance of mental health for intentions to retire early. Strategies aimed at keeping people at work for longer should emphasize the importance of mental well-being and the prevention of poor mental health. More evidence is needed on why mental problems among ageing baby-boomer employees are giving rise to increasing social consequences, although the overall prevalence of mental problems has not increased.
Changes in health functioning over different retirement transitions are poorly understood. This study aimed to examine associations between transition into statutory, disability and part-time retirement, and changes in health functioning.
Survey data were collected among ageing employees of the City of Helsinki, Finland, at three phases: (i) (2000-02), (ii) (2007) and (iii) (2012). Physical and mental health functioning were measured using the Short-Form 36 questionnaire at each phase. Retirees between phases 1 and 3 were identified from the national registers of the Finnish Centre for Pensions: full-time statutory retirement (n = 1464), part-time retirement (n = 404), and disability retirement (n = 462). Generalized estimating equations were used to examine the associations.
Disability retirees had poorer pre- and post-retirement health functioning compared to statutory and part-time retirees. Statutory and part-time retirement were associated with no or only small changes in physical health functioning during retirement transition (ß 0.1, 95% CI -0.3 to 0.5 and -1.0, -1.8 to -0.1, respectively), whereas a clear decline in functioning was observed among disability retirees (-4.3, -5.4 to -3.2). Mental health functioning improved during the retirement transition among statutory and part-time retirees (1.9, 1.4-2.4 and 2.0, 1.0-3.0, respectively), whereas no change was observed for disability retirees.
Transition to disability retirement led to a decrease in physical health functioning, and statutory retirement to a slight improvement in mental health functioning. Evidence on changes in physical and mental health functioning during retirement transition process may provide useful information for interventions to promote healthy ageing.
Retirement from paid work is a major life event facing increasingly large numbers of people in the coming years. We examined trajectories of mental health five years before and five years after old-age and disability retirement using data on purchases of psychotropic drugs.
The study included all employees from the City of Helsinki, Finland, retiring between 2000-2008 due to old age (N=4456) or disability (N=2549). Purchases of psychotropic drugs were analyzed in 20 3-month intervals before and after retirement using graphical methods and growth curve models.
Old-age retirement was unrelated to purchases of psychotropic drugs. Among disability retirees, psychotropic medication tripled before retirement. The average increase was 0.95 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.73-1.16] daily defined doses (DDD) 5-1.5 years before retirement; from 1.5 years until retirement it was 5.68 DDD (95% CI 5.33-6.03) for each 3-month interval. After disability retirement, purchases of antidepressants decreased on average by 0.40 DDD (95% CI 0.57-0.23) for each 3-month interval, those of hypnotics and sedatives increased by 0.30 DDD (95% CI 0.12-0.47), and no changes were seen for other psychotropic drugs. The changes before and after retirement were largest among those who retired due to mental disorders and those whose retirement had been granted as temporary.
While no overall decrease in psychotropic medication after retirement was observed, purchases of antidepressants decreased after disability retirement. Long-term trajectories suggest that disability retirement might be prevented if mental health problems were tackled more efficiently earlier in the pre-retirement period.
Comment In: Scand J Work Environ Health. 2012 Sep;38(5):391-222878398
Sickness absence has been shown to be a risk marker for severe future health outcomes, such as disability retirement and premature death. However, it is poorly understood how all-cause and diagnosis-specific sickness absence is reflected in subsequent physical and mental health functioning over time. The aim of this study was to examine the association of all-cause and diagnosis-specific sickness absence with subsequent changes in physical and mental health functioning among ageing municipal employees.
Prospective survey and register data from the Finnish Helsinki Health Study and the Social Insurance Institution of Finland were used. Register based records for medically certified all-cause and diagnostic-specific sickness absence spells (>14 consecutive calendar days) in 2004-2007 were examined in relation to subsequent physical and mental health functioning measured by Short-Form 36 questionnaire in 2007 and 2012. In total, 3079 respondents who were continuously employed over the sickness absence follow-up were included in the analyses. Repeated-measures analysis was used to examine the associations.
During the 3-year follow-up, 30% of the participants had at least one spell of medically certified sickness absence. All-cause sickness absence was associated with lower subsequent physical and mental health functioning in a stepwise manner: the more absence days, the poorer the subsequent physical and mental health functioning. These differences remained but narrowed slightly during the follow-up. Furthermore, the adverse association for physical health functioning was strongest among those with sickness absence due to diseases of musculoskeletal or respiratory systems, and on mental functioning among those with sickness absence due to mental disorders.
Sickness absence showed a persistent adverse stepwise association with subsequent physical and mental health functioning. Evidence on health-related outcomes after long-term sickness absence may provide useful information for targeted interventions to promote health and workability.
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Mental symptoms are prevalent among populations, but their associations with premature mortality are inadequately understood. We examined whether mental symptoms contribute to cause-specific mortality among midlife employees, while considering key covariates.
Baseline mail survey data from 2000-02 included employees, aged 40-60, of the City of Helsinki, Finland (n?=?8960, 80 % women, response rate 67 %). Mental symptoms were measured by the General Health Questionnaire 12-item version (GHQ-12) and the Short Form 36 mental component summary (MCS). Covariates included sex, marital status, social support, health behaviours, occupational social class and limiting long-standing illness. Causes of death by the end of 2013 were obtained from Statistics Finland (n?=?242) and linked individually to survey data pending consent (n?=?6605). Hazard ratios (HR) and 95 % confidence intervals (95 % CI) were calculated using Cox regression analysis.
For all-cause mortality, only MCS showed a weak association before adjustments. For natural mortality, no associations were found. For unnatural mortality (n?=?21), there was a sex adjusted association with GHQ (HR?=?1.96, 95 % CI?=?1.45-2.64) and MCS (2.30, 95 % CI?=?1.72-3.08). Among unnatural causes of death suicidal mortality (n?=?11) was associated with both GHQ (2.20, 95 % CI?=?1.47-3.29) and MCS (2.68, 95 % CI?=?1.80-3.99). Of the covariates limiting long-standing illness modestly attenuated the associations.
Two established measures of mental symptoms, i.e. GHQ-12 and SF-36 MCS, were both associated with subsequent unnatural, i.e. accidental and violent, as well as suicidal mortality. No associations were found for natural mortality due to diseases. These findings need to be corroborated in further populations. Supporting mental health through workplace measures may help counteract subsequent suicidal and other unnatural mortality among midlife employees.
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Although employees report high rates of pain, little is known about the effects of pain on health related functioning among them. This study examined the effects of pain on employees' health related functioning by bodily locations of pain, number of painful locations, and whether pain was acute or chronic.
Cross sectional questionnaire survey. Data on pain and health related functioning as measured with the eight subscales of the short form 36 health survey (SF-36) were obtained in the years 2001 and 2002.
Municipal employees of the City of Helsinki, Finland.
All employees who reached the age of 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60 years during each study year. Response rate was 66% (n = 5829).
Compared with those reporting no pain, those with pain had considerably poorer functioning on all SF-36 subscales. The lowest scores for health related functioning were seen in the physical domain of health, whereas the mental domain was less affected. The association of pain with functioning was practically independent of the bodily location of pain. Whether pain was acute or chronic had only a modest effect on functioning. Widest variation in functioning was found by the number of painful locations.
Among employees pain complaints, irrespective of the location, are associated with a decreased level of functioning. The number of painful locations is likely to be the most useful measure to identify employees with a high risk of poor functioning.
The aim of this study was to examine the associations of parental education and specific childhood circumstances with adult physical and mental functioning. Self-reported data were collected in 2000, 2001 and 2002 among middle-aged women (n=7,171) and men (n=1,799) employed by the City of Helsinki. Functioning was measured by the physical and mental component summaries of the Short-Form 36 Health Survey (SF-36). The lowest quartile of the scores on each component summary was considered to indicate limited functioning. Adult socio-economic circumstances were measured by their own education. Among women parental education was inversely associated with physical functioning. The association remained after adjusting for specific childhood circumstances but disappeared after adjustment for own education. In contrast, parental education was positively associated with mental functioning among women, and the association remained after adjusting for specific childhood circumstances and the own education. Among women childhood adversities such as own chronic disease, parental mental problems, economic difficulties and having been bullied in childhood were associated with both physical and mental functioning. Parental drinking problems were associated with adult mental functioning among women. Among men, chronic disease, economic difficulties and having been bullied in childhood were associated with physical functioning. Parental mental problems, economic difficulties and having being bullied in childhood were also associated with mental functioning among men. These results suggest that the effect of parental education on physical functioning is mediated through one's own education. The association between parental education and mental functioning and the effects of several specific childhood circumstances may suggest a latency effect. Some evidence of cumulative effects of childhood and adulthood circumstances were found among women in physical functioning. Specific childhood circumstances are therefore important determinants of adult functioning. These circumstances provide detailed information on the association of childhood circumstances with adult functioning over and above parental education.
The Helsinki Health Study cohort was set up to enable longitudinal studies on the social and work related determinants of health and well-being, making use of self-reported as well as objective register data. The target population is the staff of the City of Helsinki, Finland. Baseline data for the cohort were derived from questionnaire surveys conducted in 2000, 2001 and 2002 among employees reaching 40, 45, 50, 55 or 60 years of age in each year. The number of responders at baseline was 8960 (80% women, response rate 67%). Additional age-based health examination data were available. A follow up survey was conducted in 2007 yielding 7332 responders (response rate 83%). Measures of health include health behaviours, self-rated health, common mental disorders, functioning, pain, sleep problems, angina symptoms and major diseases. Social determinants include socio-demographics, socio-economic circumstances, working conditions, social support, and work-family interface. Further register linkages include sickness absence, hospital discharge, prescribed drugs, and retirement updated at the end of 2010. The cohort allows comparisons with the Whitehall II study, London, UK, and the Japanese Civil Servants Study from western Japan. The cohort data are available for collaborative research at Hjelt Institute, Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Finland.
We sought to examine the importance of childhood circumstances, adult socioeconomic status, and material circumstances to physical and mental functioning among middle-aged women and men.
The data were collected among the employees of the City of Helsinki by mailed questionnaires from 2000 to 2002 (7148 women and 1799 men, response rate 67%). Three latent variables covering childhood circumstances, adult socioeconomic status, and material circumstances were constructed from 10 observed socioeconomic indicators. Direct and indirect effects of the latent variables on physical and mental functioning, measured by the SF-36 component summaries, were examined using structural equation modelling.
Childhood circumstances were not directly associated with either physical or mental functioning but had some effect through socioeconomic status. Low socioeconomic status was associated with poor physical functioning, but mental functioning was poorer among those in higher positions. Material circumstances were associated with physical and especially with mental functioning.
Low socioeconomic status and material circumstances are both important for physical functioning. However, mental functioning does not necessarily follow a similar socioeconomic pattern and the results are heavily influenced by how socioeconomic position is measured.
Physical inactivity and overweight are major threats to public health. However, it is not well understood to what extent physical activity might counteract the harmful effects of overweight on functioning. Thus, we examined the joint associations of leisure-time physical activity and body mass index (BMI) with subsequent physical and mental functioning over a follow-up of five to seven years.
The data were derived from the Helsinki Health Study, which is a cohort study among employees of the City of Helsinki, Finland. The baseline postal survey data were collected among 40-60-year-old employees in 2000-02 (n = 8960, response rate 67%), and the follow-up data in 2007 among all baseline survey respondents (n = 7332, response rate 83%). We divided the participants into six groups according to their amount of physical activity (inactive, moderately active and highly active) and their relative weight (normal weight and overweight). Highly active normal-weight participants were used as a reference group in all the analyses. Poor functioning was defined as the lowest quartile of the Short Form 36 (SF-36) health survey's physical and mental component summaries, with the follow-up cut-off point also applied at baseline. We used logistic regression analysis adjusted for age, gender, baseline functioning, smoking, alcohol use, marital status, socioeconomic position and working conditions.
At baseline 48% of the participants were overweight and 11% were inactive. After adjustments inactivity was associated with poor physical functioning at follow-up both among the normal-weight (OR 1.51, 95% CI 1.09-2.10) and overweight (OR 2.02, 95% CI 1.56-2.63) groups. Being overweight regardless of activity level was associated with poor physical functioning. Poor physical functioning was practically equally common among the highly active overweight group and the inactive normal-weight group. After adjustments, for mental functioning, only inactivity among the overweight was associated with poor mental functioning (OR 1.39, 95% CI 1.08-1.80).
Physical activity is likely to be beneficial for physical and mental functioning among both those with overweight and normal weight. However, maintaining normal weight is also important for good physical functioning. Therefore, efforts should be made to recommend people to engage in physical activity regardless of weight.
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Disability retirement (DR) among young employees is an increasing problem affecting work life and public health, given the potential major loss of working time. Little is known about educational differences in the risk of DR among young employees, despite the need for such knowledge in targeting preventive measures. We examined the association between education and DR due to any cause and to mental and non-mental causes among young employees.
Personnel register data of the City of Helsinki from the years 2002-2013 for 25-to-34-year-old employees (n= 41225) were linked to register data from the Finnish Centre for Pensions on DR (n= 381), and from Statistics Finland on education. Education was categorised into four hierarchical groups. The mean follow-up time was 5.7 years. Cox regression analysis was used.
There were 381 DR events and of the events, over 70% were due to mental disorders and 72% were temporary. A consistent educational gradient was found. Those with a basic education were at the highest risk of DR due to any cause (HR 4.64, 95% CI 3.07, 7.02), and to mental (HR 4.79, 95% CI 2.89, 7.94) and non-mental causes (HR 4.32, 95% CI 2.10, 8.91).
DR due to any cause, and to mental and non-mental causes, followed a clear educational gradient. Early intervention, treatment and rehabilitation with a view to maintaining work ability are needed among young employees, especially those with low education. Adapting working conditions to their health and work ability may also help to avoid premature exit from work.
To examine whether leisure-time physical activity is associated with all-cause disability retirement as well as disability retirement due to musculoskeletal and mental causes.
The baseline data were collected by questionnaire surveys in 2000-2002 among 40- to 60-year-old employees of the City of Helsinki. Disability retirement data were derived from the registry of the Finnish Centre for Pensions (maximum follow-up time 6.8 years). The analysis included 4920 women and 1355 men. Physical activity was converted to metabolic equivalent (MET) index. We classified the participants into 4 groups according to physical activity recommendations and according to the participation in vigorous intensity activities. Cox regression analysis was used to calculate hazard ratios.
Physical activity decreased the risk of all-cause disability retirement among both genders, however, women engaging in recommended volume of moderate-intensity activity only did not have reduced risk. Those engaging in vigorous activity with sufficient total volume had clearly reduced risk of disability retirement. The association was similar when examining disability retirement due to musculoskeletal and mental causes.
For healthy middle-aged engaging in moderate-intensity physical activity additional vigorous exercise may be useful for maintaining musculoskeletal and mental health and thus lower the risk of subsequent disability retirement.
The association between retirement and mental health is assumed to depend on socio-demographic factors, but there is a lack of empirical evidence. We examined antidepressant medication before and after retirement by age, gender, living arrangements, and social class. The material comprised nationally representative register data from Finland. Linear regression analysis was used to calculate changes in antidepressant medication 7.5?years before and after disability (N?=?42,937) and old-age (N?=?19,877) retirement in 1997-2007 by socio-demographic factors. No changes in antidepressant medication (mean DDD/3-month period) were observed around old-age retirement regardless of the socio-demographic factors. After a slight initial increase in antidepressant medication there was a substantial rise 1.5-0?years before disability retirement, after which there was a marked decrease, particularly during the first 3?years. These effects were less pronounced in retirement due to somatic causes. Age was the strongest modifying factor in retirement due to both depression and somatic causes, with a stronger increase and limited decrease in antidepressant medication among the younger age groups. The post-retirement decrease was also somewhat stronger among men, and among those in higher social classes and those living with a spouse in depression-related retirement. In somatic causes, the pre-retirement increase was stronger among those in higher social classes. Prevention and rehabilitation of mental-health problems in association with work disability should focus particularly on young adults, among whom the strong increase in antidepressant medication before disability retirement, and the continued high levels of medication after the transition signify long periods of morbidity and premature retirement.
Common mental disorders (CMD) are prevalent in working populations and have adverse consequences for employee well-being and work ability, even leading to early retirement. Several studies report associations between psychosocial working conditions and CMD. However, there is a lack of longitudinal research within a broad framework of psychosocial working conditions and improvement in CMD. The aim of this study was to examine the associations between several psychosocial working conditions and deteriorating and improving CMD among ageing employees over a five-to-six-year follow-up period.
The study is based on the Helsinki Health Study baseline survey in 2001-2002 and a follow-up in 2007 (N?=?4340, response rate 83%) conducted among 40-60-year-old female and male employees. The General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) was used to measure common mental disorders. Psychosocial working conditions were measured in terms of job strain, organisational justice, work-family interface, social support and workplace bullying. The covariates included sociodemographic and health factors.
Following adjustment for all the covariates, family-to-work (OR 1.41, 95% Cl 1.04-1.91) and work-to-family conflicts (OR 1.99, 95% Cl 1.42-2.78) and workplace bullying (OR 1.40, 95% Cl 1.09-1.79) were associated with deterioration, and family-to-work conflicts (OR 1.65, 95% Cl 1.66-2.34) and social support (OR 1.47, 95% Cl 1.07-2.00) with improvement in CMD.
Adverse psychosocial working conditions contribute to poor mental health among employees. Preventing workplace bullying, promoting social support and achieving a better balance between work and family may help employees to maintain their mental health.
Cites: Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2006 Mar;79(3):205-1216254726
Workplace bullying has been associated with mental health, but longitudinal studies confirming the association are lacking. This study examined the associations of workplace bullying with subsequent common mental disorders 5-7 years later, taking account of baseline common mental disorders and several covariates.
Baseline questionnaire survey data were collected in 2000-2002 among municipal employees, aged 40-60 years (n=8960; 80% women; response rate 67%). Follow-up data were collected in 2007 (response rate 83%). The final data amounted to 6830 respondents. Workplace bullying was measured at baseline using an instructed question about being bullied currently, previously or never. Common mental disorders were measured at baseline and at follow-up using the 12-item version of the General Health Questionnaire. Those scoring 3-12 were classified as having common mental disorders. Covariates included bullying in childhood, occupational and employment position, work stress, obesity and limiting longstanding illness. Logistic regression analysis was used.
After adjusting for age, being currently bullied at baseline was associated with common mental disorders at follow-up among women (OR 2.34, CI 1.81 to 3.02) and men (OR 3.64, CI 2.13 to 6.24). The association for the previously bullied was weaker. Adjusting for baseline common mental disorders, the association attenuated but remained. Adjusting for further covariates did not substantially alter the studied association. CONCLUSION The study confirms that workplace bullying is likely to contribute to subsequent common mental disorders. Measures against bullying are needed at workplaces to prevent mental disorders.
While serious mental disorders typically show socioeconomic differences similar to physical illness-that is, that lower positions imply poorer health-differences for common mental disorders have been inconsistent. We aim to clarify the associations and pathways between measures of socioeconomic circumstances and common mental disorders by simultaneously analysing several past and present socioeconomic measures. The data were derived from middle-aged women and men employed by the City of Helsinki. Cross-sectional surveys were conducted in 2000-2002 among employees who, during each year, reached 40, 45, 50, 55 or 60 years of age. The pooled data include 8970 respondents (80% women; response rate 67%). Common mental disorders were measured by GHQ-12 and the SF-36 mental component summary. Seven socioeconomic measures were included: parental education, childhood economic difficulties, own education, occupational class, household income, home ownership, and current economic difficulties. Logistic regression analysis was used to examine associations between the socioeconomic circumstances and common mental disorders. Past and present economic difficulties were strongly associated with common mental disorders, whereas conventional past and present socioeconomic status measures showed weak or slightly reverse associations. Adjusting for age and gradually for each socioeconomic measure did not affect the main findings, which were very similar for women and men, as well as for both measures of common mental disorders. While the associations of conventional socioeconomic status measures with common mental disorders were weak and inconsistent, our results highlight the importance of past and present economic difficulties to these disorders.
Common mental disorders do not always show as consistent socioeconomic gradients as severe mental disorders and physical health. This inconsistency may be due to the multitude of socioeconomic measures used and the populations and national contexts studied. We examine the associations between various socioeconomic circumstances and common mental disorders among middle-aged Finnish and British public sector employees.
We used survey data from the Finnish Helsinki Health Study (n = 6028) and the British Whitehall II Study (n = 3116). Common mental disorders were measured by GHQ-12. The socioeconomic indicators were parental education, childhood economic difficulties, own education, occupational class, household income, housing tenure and current economic difficulties. Logistic regression analysis was the main statistical method used.
Childhood and current economic difficulties were strongly associated with common mental disorders among men and women in both the Helsinki and the London cohort. The more conventional indicators of socioeconomic circumstances showed weak or inconsistent associations. Differences between the two cohorts and two genders were small.
Our findings emphasize the importance of past and present economic circumstances to common mental disorders across different countries and genders. Overall, our results suggest that among employee populations, the socioeconomic patterning of common mental disorders may differ from that of other domains of health.
Comment In: Int J Epidemiol. 2007 Aug;36(4):786-817644529
Mental disorders are common diagnostic causes for longer sickness absence and disability retirement in OECD-countries. Short sickness absence spells are also common, and neither trivial for health and work ability. We studied how prior short sickness absence spells and days are associated with subsequent longer sickness absence due to mental disorders in two age-groups of municipal employees during a 2-, 5- and 9-year follow-up.
The analyses covered 20-34 and 35-49-year-old employees of the City of Helsinki in 2004. Those with prior =14 day sickness absence in 2002, 2003 or 2004 were excluded. Women and men were pooled together. Short, 1-13-day sickness absence spells and days were calculated per the actual time of employment during 2004. Logistic regression analysis was used to calculate odds ratios (OR) and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the subsequent long (=14 days) sickness absence due to mental disorders during three follow-ups.
The risk for long sickness absence due to mental disorders increased with increasing amount of short sickness absence spells and days. 3 or more short sickness absence spells and 8-14 sickness absence days from short spells in 2004 were strongly associated with subsequent long sickness absence in all three follow-ups. The associations were strongest for the 2-year follow-up; the younger employees tended to have higher risks than the older ones.
Three spells or 8 days of short sickness absence per year constitutes a high risk for subsequent long sickness absence due to mental disorders and preventive measures should be considered.
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Studies comparing socioeconomic inequalities in health using several health indicators are scarce. Therefore, this study aims to compare the shape and magnitude of occupational class inequalities across key domains of health, i.e. the subjective, functional and medical domains. Additionally, we examine whether physical or mental workload will affect these inequalities, and whether these effects are specific to particular health indicators.
Cross-sectional survey data from the Helsinki Health Study in 2000 and 2001 were used. Each year employees of the City of Helsinki, reaching 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60 years received a mailed questionnaire. 6243 employees responded (80% women, response rate 68%). The socioeconomic indicator was occupational social class. Nine health indicators were included: self-rated health, pain or ache, GHQ-12 mental well-being, limiting long-standing illness, SF-36 physical and mental health functioning, Rose angina symptoms, circulatory diseases and mental problems. Prevalence percentages, odds ratios and inequality indices from logistic regression analysis were calculated.
Occupational class inequalities were found for self-rated health, pain or ache, limiting long-standing illness, physical health functioning, angina symptoms, and circulatory diseases. Physical or mental workload did not account for these inequalities. Inequalities were non-existent or slightly reversed for GHQ-12 mental well-being, SF-36 mental health functioning and mental problems.
Expected occupational class inequalities in health among both women and men were found for global and physical health but not for mental health. The observed inequalities could not be attributed to physical or mental workload.