Good work ability is very important in young workers, but knowledge of work situations that influence work ability in this group is poor. The aim of this study was to assess whether changes in self-reported work factors are associated with self-reported work ability among young female and male workers.
A sample of 1,311 (718 women and 593 men) was selected from a Swedish cohort of workers aged 21-25 years. At baseline and at 1-year follow-up, participants completed a self-administrated questionnaire including ratings of physical and psychosocial work factors and current work ability. Prevalence ratios were calculated to assess univariate and multivariate associations between changes in work factors and changes in work ability.
Decreased job control (PR 1.7, 95% CI 1.49-2.12) and increased negative influence of job demands on private life (PR 1.5, 95% CI 1.25-1.69) were associated with reduced work ability for both female and male workers in the multivariate analyses. Among female workers, an association was found between improved work ability and increased social support at work (PR 2.4, CI 1.43-3.95). For male workers, increased job control (PR 2.3, 95% CI 1.21-4.54) and decreased negative influence of job demands on private life (PR 2.1, 95% CI 1.10-3.87) were associated with improved work ability in the multivariate analyses.
Decreased job control and increased negative influence of job demands on private life over time seem to be the most important work factors associated with reduced work ability among young workers of both sexes. Increased social support at work, increased job control, and decreased negative influence of job demands on private life were also found to be the main work factors associated with improved work ability, although with possible gender differences.
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