Work-system risk factors for permanent work disability among home-care workers: a case-control study

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2003 Apr;76(3):216-24. doi: 10.1007/s00420-002-0414-5. Epub 2003 Mar 1.


Objective: There is a growing need for home-care services in western societies. As home-care workers show high levels of absence related to poor health it is important that we broaden our knowledge about what factors in the work system contribute to this. The aim of this study was to explore and estimate the impact of the work system on permanent work disability and its relative importance compared with home-life risks among home-care workers.

Methods: The cases (617 subjects) were all home-care workers in Sweden, whose disability pension was approved in 1997 or 1998. The controls (771 subjects) were home-care workers still working. We used a questionnaire to gain situation-specific information on working life and home life 5 and 15 years before disability pension entitlement.

Results: The most important risk factors in the work system were poor ergonomic/lifting conditions, time pressure and lack of professional caring technique. Fifteen years prior to disability pension entitlement, insufficient management (odds ratio (OR) 95%, CI 2.6[1.6;4.2]) and relational problems at work were also risk factors. Five years before disability pension entitlement, poor organisational support (4.1 [2.5;6.7]), opportunities for co-working and working climate (3.5 [2.4;5.2]) were also strongly related to a persisting work ability. The magnitude of exposure to a number of risk factors had an increased effect (highest 13.8 [5.6-33.8]). The strongest risk factor in home life was little opportunity to rest from work (4.9 [3.0;8.0]). The risk factors in working life were robust to the inclusion of the grouped risk factors of home life.

Conclusions: The conclusion was that risk factors related to the work system are, alone, strongly related to permanent work disability among home-care workers. Also, exposure to several of the risk factors constitutes a notably strong risk for permanent work disability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Disabled Persons
  • Ergonomics
  • Female
  • Home Care Services*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pensions
  • Risk Factors
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Workload*