Monday, February 18, 2008

Australian Study Identifies Industries More Likely To Employ Older Workers with Chronic Illnesses

According to a study published in Australia, increasing rates of chronic health conditions are unlikely to have an even impact across the workforce, as the rate of employment of older workers with these conditions varies between industries. The results of the study appear in the Australian Medical Association's Medical Journal of Australia ("Where are older workers with chronic conditions employed?" ; free registration).

Using data from the 2005 National Health Survey (NHS), Deborah J Schofield, Susan L Fletcher, Arul Earnest, Megan E Passey and Rupendra N Shrestha find that, compared with the reference industry of property and business services, workers in the retail trade industry were found to be more likely to suffer from musculoskeletal conditions, while those in health and community services had higher rates of cardiovascular disease. Compared with the reference occupation group of professionals, managers and administrators were less likely to suffer neoplasms.
It is important to note that a number of the industries with significantly higher rates of chronic illness are growth industries, such as retail trade and health and community services. These two industries accounted for a quarter of the employed workforce in 2005, up from around 20% in 1990. If the chronic conditions in growth industries are work-related, rates of disease may increase in the future as these industries continue to grow. However, if they are unrelated to work, it may mean that older workers with these conditions can more readily gain employment in these industries.
According to Dr. Schofield, measures to prevent chronic health conditions may be essential to increasing future labour force participation: "Given Australia's ageing population, emerging workforce shortages, and with chronic disease affecting the majority of the workforce, measures to prevent illness may be an important strategy for increasing future labour force participation."

Source: The University of Sydney News Release (February 18, 2008)

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