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Older working adults in the HEAF study are more likely to report loneliness after two years of follow-up if they have negative perceptions of their work quality

Older working adults in the HEAF study are more likely to report loneliness after two years of follow-up if they have negative perceptions of their work quality
Older working adults in the HEAF study are more likely to report loneliness after two years of follow-up if they have negative perceptions of their work quality
Background: loneliness is an important public health issue associated with mortality and morbidity. Often researched amongst older people, less is known about risk factors for loneliness among adults aged 50-64 years who are in work. We investigated (a) if exit from the workforce increases the odds of loneliness; (b) whether adverse psychosocial work factors are associated with increased odds of loneliness over 2 years of follow-up; and (c) whether the association is stronger among subjects still working compared with those who have exited the workforce.

Methods: data came from the Health and Employment After Fifty (HEAF) study, a large population cohort who provided questionnaire information about work and health at baseline and 2 annual follow-ups. Logistic regression was used to explore the association between psychosocial risk factors and loneliness at follow-up 2, with adjustment for loneliness at baseline, sex, age, self-rated health, living alone, and mental health diagnosis.

Results: of the initial 8134 participants, 4521 were working at baseline and provided data for this analysis. Of those, 507 (11.2%) were defined as lonely at 2 years’ follow-up. Exiting the workforce was not significantly associated with loneliness (OR=1.1, 95%CI: 0.7-1.7). However, negative psychosocial work factors predicted loneliness at follow-up. After mutual adjustment, lack of choice at work (OR: 1.5, 95%CI: 1.1-1.9), often lying awake worrying about work (OR: 1.4, 95%CI: 1.0-1.9) and perceived not coping with physical demands of the job (OR: 1.3, 95%CI: 1.0-1.7) were independent predictors, with associations robust to adjustment for demographic factors and health. Associations were only slightly altered when we restricted the sample to those who remained in work until the end of follow-up.

Conclusions: loneliness amongst middle-aged working adults is not predicted by permanent work exit but is predicted by individuals’ perceptions about their work. Provision of good-quality work, matched to the capacity of the older worker, could prevent loneliness.


1471-2458
Bevilacqua, Gregorio
e93e3b18-7d1e-4da5-9fcd-e6b4637e1c2e
D'Angelo, Stefania
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Ntani, Georgia
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Syddall, Holly Emma
a0181a93-8fc3-4998-a996-7963f0128328
Harris, E. Clare
3e4bd946-3f09-45a1-8725-d35e80dd7971
Linaker, Catherine
6c6d1b90-ee40-4c96-8b2e-b06efbe030ae
Stevens, Martin
6ed230b2-7eaa-478b-80f7-ea75234bb76f
Cooper, Cyrus
e05f5612-b493-4273-9b71-9e0ce32bdad6
Walker-Bone, Karen
ad7d1336-ed2c-4f39-ade5-da84eb412109
Bevilacqua, Gregorio
e93e3b18-7d1e-4da5-9fcd-e6b4637e1c2e
D'Angelo, Stefania
b6755c92-c646-4417-ae51-436ae5f196fd
Ntani, Georgia
9b009e0a-5ab2-4c6e-a9fd-15a601e92be5
Syddall, Holly Emma
a0181a93-8fc3-4998-a996-7963f0128328
Harris, E. Clare
3e4bd946-3f09-45a1-8725-d35e80dd7971
Linaker, Catherine
6c6d1b90-ee40-4c96-8b2e-b06efbe030ae
Stevens, Martin
6ed230b2-7eaa-478b-80f7-ea75234bb76f
Cooper, Cyrus
e05f5612-b493-4273-9b71-9e0ce32bdad6
Walker-Bone, Karen
ad7d1336-ed2c-4f39-ade5-da84eb412109

Bevilacqua, Gregorio, D'Angelo, Stefania, Ntani, Georgia, Syddall, Holly Emma, Harris, E. Clare, Linaker, Catherine, Stevens, Martin, Cooper, Cyrus and Walker-Bone, Karen (2021) Older working adults in the HEAF study are more likely to report loneliness after two years of follow-up if they have negative perceptions of their work quality. BMC Public Health. (In Press)

Record type: Article

Abstract

Background: loneliness is an important public health issue associated with mortality and morbidity. Often researched amongst older people, less is known about risk factors for loneliness among adults aged 50-64 years who are in work. We investigated (a) if exit from the workforce increases the odds of loneliness; (b) whether adverse psychosocial work factors are associated with increased odds of loneliness over 2 years of follow-up; and (c) whether the association is stronger among subjects still working compared with those who have exited the workforce.

Methods: data came from the Health and Employment After Fifty (HEAF) study, a large population cohort who provided questionnaire information about work and health at baseline and 2 annual follow-ups. Logistic regression was used to explore the association between psychosocial risk factors and loneliness at follow-up 2, with adjustment for loneliness at baseline, sex, age, self-rated health, living alone, and mental health diagnosis.

Results: of the initial 8134 participants, 4521 were working at baseline and provided data for this analysis. Of those, 507 (11.2%) were defined as lonely at 2 years’ follow-up. Exiting the workforce was not significantly associated with loneliness (OR=1.1, 95%CI: 0.7-1.7). However, negative psychosocial work factors predicted loneliness at follow-up. After mutual adjustment, lack of choice at work (OR: 1.5, 95%CI: 1.1-1.9), often lying awake worrying about work (OR: 1.4, 95%CI: 1.0-1.9) and perceived not coping with physical demands of the job (OR: 1.3, 95%CI: 1.0-1.7) were independent predictors, with associations robust to adjustment for demographic factors and health. Associations were only slightly altered when we restricted the sample to those who remained in work until the end of follow-up.

Conclusions: loneliness amongst middle-aged working adults is not predicted by permanent work exit but is predicted by individuals’ perceptions about their work. Provision of good-quality work, matched to the capacity of the older worker, could prevent loneliness.


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Accepted/In Press date: 9 March 2021

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 447741
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/447741
ISSN: 1471-2458
PURE UUID: c773155f-a5b6-492a-8948-e819ed481505
ORCID for Gregorio Bevilacqua: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-7819-1482
ORCID for Holly Emma Syddall: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-0171-0306
ORCID for E. Clare Harris: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-8037-566X
ORCID for Catherine Linaker: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1091-9283
ORCID for Martin Stevens: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6142-5278
ORCID for Cyrus Cooper: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-3510-0709
ORCID for Karen Walker-Bone: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-5992-1459

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 19 Mar 2021 17:31
Last modified: 29 Jul 2021 01:45

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Contributors

Author: Gregorio Bevilacqua ORCID iD
Author: Stefania D'Angelo
Author: Georgia Ntani
Author: E. Clare Harris ORCID iD
Author: Martin Stevens ORCID iD
Author: Cyrus Cooper ORCID iD

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