Objectives: The purpose of this article is to explore the associations of psychosocial factors at work, life style, and stressful life events on health and work ability among white-collar workers.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted among workers in commercial services (n = 1141). The main outcome variables were work ability, measured by the work ability index (WAI), and mental and physical health, measured by the Short-Form Health Survey (SF-12). Individual characteristics, psychosocial factors at work, stressful life events, and lifestyle factors were determined by a questionnaire. Maximum oxygen uptake, weight, height, and biceps strength were measured during a physical examination.
Results: Work ability of white-collar workers in commercial services industry was strongly associated with psychosocial factors at work such as teamwork, stress handling, and self-development and, to a lesser extent, with stressful life events, lack of physical activity, and obesity. Determinants of mental health were very similar to those of work ability, whereas physical health was influenced primarily by life style factors. With respect to work ability, the influence of unhealthy life style seems more important for older workers, than for their younger colleagues.
Conclusion: Among white-collar workers mental and physical health were of equal importance to work ability, but only mental health and work ability shared the same determinants. The strong associations between psychosocial factors at work and mental health and work ability suggest that in this study population health promotion should address working conditions rather than individual life style factors.