PurposeUnfavourable exposure to psychosocial work factors threatens older employees' mental health, and their sustained employment. This study assesses whether an improved compared to stable unfavourable and stable favourable exposure to psychosocial work factors is associated with a change in mental health in older employees at 3-year follow-up.
MethodsThe current study used data from the Study on Transitions in Employment, Ability and Motivation (STREAM), in workers aged 45-65 years (n = 5249). Two-year (2010-2012) exposure was assessed for psychological demands, autonomy, support, mental load, and distributive justice. Linear regression analyses were performed to compare improved exposure to unfavourable psychosocial work factors with stable unfavourable and stable favourable exposure and mental health at follow-up (2013), corrected for confounders. Analyses were stratified for age groups (45-54 and 55-65 years) and gender.
ResultsIn certain subgroups, stable unfavourable exposure to psychological demands, autonomy, support, and distributive justice was associated with a significantly lower mental health score than improved exposure. Stable favourable exposure to support was associated with a higher mental health score than improved support, whereas stable favourable exposure to autonomy was associated with a lower mental health score compared to improved exposure.
ConclusionsThere is a longitudinal association between changes in exposure to psychosocial work factors and mental health. Improvement in unfavourable exposure to psychosocial work factors was associated with improved mental health. This is important information for organisations that consider deploying measures to improve the psychosocial work environment of older workers.