Monday, August 15, 2011

Research Study Finds Disparity Between Effects of Arthritis on Blue Collar and White Collar Older Workers

White-collar workers have a higher overall health-related quality of life than do other workers, and suffer fewer quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) lost to arthritis at all ages, according to research published in the September 2012 issue of the American Journal of Public Health. Thus, for example, while 65-year-old white-collar workers without arthritis look forward to 17 QALYs of future life, blue-collar workers with arthritis experience only 11, and are much less likely to remain in the workforce than are those in service, farming, or white-collar jobs.

In "Arthritis, Occupational Class, and the Aging US Workforce," Alberto Cabán-Martinez, DO, at the time of the study a professor in the department of epidemiology and public health at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida, and the other authors note that this is a signficant workplace issue because it is often the lower-income individuals who, for financial reasons, need to remain in the workforce longer, despite greater health problems than white-collar workers. Among other things, the research found that, in workers aged 65 and older, approximately 67% of farmers, 58% of those in service, 51% in white-collar occupations, and 47% of those in blue-collar jobs had arthritis.
Dr. Cabán-Martinez says it is important to use studies like this to reinforce the need for workforce change. The authors suggest improving disability and unemployment insurance and arthritis health promotion interventions.

He suggests using ergonomic interventions, or changing the workflow or duties to allow people to remain productive longer. For instance, a nurse or police officer could be reassigned from patient handling or street patrol to perform administrative duties. “Wal-Mart might have an elderly greeter at the door instead of at a labor-intensive job so it is not so burdensome on the joints and body,” he says.
Source: Arthritis Today"Arthritis Hits Blue-collar Workers Harder" (August 12, 2011)

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