Maximum healthy working ages to be explored in new study
- Healthcare experts from Keele University are exploring the number of years that people with musculoskeletal conditions, such as back pain and osteoarthritis, can be healthy and in work, in a new study which could be crucial for informing interventions to help people keep working.
- Earlier studies into “healthy working life expectancy” have found that people with musculoskeletal conditions, aged between 50-70, are not healthy or in work for as long as people who don’t have these conditions.
- Governments around the world are encouraging people to work for longer, meaning these findings will be hugely important across several sectors including for policymakers, healthcare providers, and businesses.
Informing national policy
Healthcare experts from Keele University are exploring the ages that people with musculoskeletal conditions can remain healthy while still working, in a new study which could be crucial for informing national policy and approaches to help people keep working.
Governments in the UK and around the world are changing their policies and encouraging people to work for longer, but previous research by Keele experts suggests that on average, working people’s health starts to deteriorate at least five years before they reach state pension age.
Earlier studies into “healthy working life expectancy” have found that people aged between 50-70 may not be healthy enough to extend their working lives, and those with musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis and back pain may find this particularly hard.
Supporting workers with health conditions
Two out of five working-aged people with arthritis report that their condition has a negative impact on their working life, and one in four people with arthritis report retiring earlier from work than they otherwise would have.
Previous Keele-led studies haves looked at the impact of these conditions on how long people could remain healthy and in work for, as well as other factors which might have an impact such as support from employers.
This new research, co-funded by the Nuffield Foundation’s Oliver Bird Fund and Versus Arthritis, will provide new information and insights to inform decisions on extensions to working life, as well as improving our understanding of how to improve healthy working life for people with musculoskeletal conditions.
The findings will be hugely important across a number of sectors, including for Government when reviewing whether to increase state pension age, and guiding approaches by healthcare providers, employers and employees to increase healthy working life for people with musculoskeletal conditions.
Insights for a healthy working life
Professor Ross Wilkie, who is leading the research, said: “This grant will allow us to further build the population level research focusing on musculoskeletal conditions and work at Keele.
“Musculoskeletal conditions, such as back pain and arthritis, along with mental health conditions are commonly associated with work loss and reduce the length of time that people are healthy and in work.
“We will build a large synthetic database, with 700,000 people in it, to identify a range of opportunities that can increase healthy working life for people with musculoskeletal conditions. We will also work with key stakeholders to facilitate the implementation of our findings to improve work participation. We are looking forward to working with the Nuffield Foundation and Versus Arthritis.”
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