History of exposure to symptoms of common mental disorder in relation to extended working: British Household Panel Survey and Understanding Society

Publication type

Conference Paper


Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2015, 21-23 July 2015, University of Essex, Colchester, UK


Publication date

July 22, 2015


Given the changing population age structure and associated policy
challenges, governments in the UK and elsewhere are interested in
factors that may influence extended working, defined here as working
beyond age 50. The aim of our study was to determine the association
between repeated exposure to symptoms of common mental disorder (e.g.
anxiety, depression) over working life (age 16+), in relation to
extended working (beyond age 50). The study population comprised
>3000 participants in the British Household Panel Survey (1991/2008)
available for follow-up in Understanding Society (2010/11). Repeated
exposures to symptoms of common mental disorder were measured using the
General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) over a 17-year exposure window
(1991/2008). Participants were grouped according to how many years they
had exceeded the GHQ case threshold: 0-1, 2-5, 5+ years. The outcome was
the odds of working 25+hrs/week at follow-up (2010/11), analysed using
logistic regression and weighted for the study design. Adjusting for age
and sex, from age 60 to 65, exposure to GHQ caseness for 5+ years (vs.
0-1 years) was associated with an 8% (95% CI 1%, 14%) reduction in the
probability of working 25+hrs/week. There was no association between GHQ
exposure and extended working between age 50 and 60. We will evaluate
whether effects differ for men/women and for different socio-economic
groups. We will also consider a wider range of confounding factors.
These preliminary results suggest that exposure to symptoms of common
mental disorder over working life influence the probability of extended
working in later life.






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