Indicators of job strain at midlife and cognitive functioning in advanced old age

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2011 May;66(3):287-91. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbq105. Epub 2011 Feb 3.


Objectives: We used data from SWEOLD, a Swedish nationally representative study of individuals aged 77 years or older, to examine midlife indicators of job strain in relation to cognitive performance and impairment.

Methods: In all, 827 participants completed an abridged 11-point version of the Mini-Mental State Examination in-person in 1992 and/or 2002 and had self-reported and/or occupation-based scores for job control and demands from data collected in 1968. Seventeen percent scored below the cutoff for cognitive impairment.

Results: Controlling for age, sex, education, self-rated health, and year of cognitive screening, low self-reported and occupation-based job control at midlife was associated with poorer cognitive performance later (ps < .001). For the occupation-based measure, low job control was also associated with greater likelihood of impairment, whereas having an active job (high job control/high job demands) was associated with better cognitive performance and lower likelihood of impairment (ps < .01). Childhood environment, midlife depressive symptoms, and social activity had limited influence, whereas the influence of both adulthood socioeconomic position and work complexity on these results was more pronounced.

Discussion: Job control at midlife, by itself and in combination with job demands, may influence cognitive functioning later above and beyond demographic variables and other occupational characteristics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Depression / complications
  • Educational Status
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupations*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*