Age, burnout and physical and psychological work ability among nurses

Background: The ageing of the US labour force highlights the need to examine older adults' physical and psychological ability to work, under varying levels of occupational burnout.
Aims: To examine how age and burnout interact in predicting physical and psychological work ability.
Methods: Using a cohort of actively working nurses, we assessed factors on the Work Ability Index at 12-month follow-up and determined how these were related to age and exhaustion-related burnout at baseline.
Results: The study group consisted of 402 nurses aged 25–67 (mean = 41.7). Results indicated age by burnout interactions in which decrements in physical work ability with greater age were observed at all but the lowest level of burnout (1.5 SD below mean: β = −0.14, 95% CI −0.36, 0.07; 1 SD below: β = −0.23, 95% CI −0.39, −0.06; mean: β = −0.39, 95% CI −0.50, −0.29; 1 SD above: β = −0.56, 95% CI −0.70, −0.42; 1.5 SD above: β = −0.64, 95% CI −0.83, −0.46). In contrast, we observed decrements in psychological work ability with age at higher levels of burnout only (1 SD above: β = −0.20, 95% CI −0.35, −0.05; 1.5 SD above: β = −0.30, 95% CI −0.49, −0.11); at lower levels of burnout, older age was associated with improvements in this (1 SD below: β = 0.19, 95% CI 0.03, 0.35; 1.5 SD below: β = 0.29, 95% CI 0.08, 0.50).
Conclusions: Findings indicated physical and psychological dimensions of work ability that differed by age and occupational burnout. This emphasizes the need for interventions to reduce burnout and to address age-related strengths and vulnerabilities relating to physical and psychological work ability.

Source: Hatch, D. J., Freude, G., Martus, P., Rose, U., Müller, G. et Potter, G. G. (2018). Occupational Medicine, 68(4), 246-254.

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