Objective: The aim of this paper was to analyse the longitudinal effects of effort-reward imbalance (ERI) on work ability, mental health and physical functioning.
Methods: A total of 603 men and women aged 30-59 years participating in the first two waves of the German Sociomedical Panel of Employees were included in the analyses. Work ability was assessed using the Work Ability Index. Mental health and physical functioning were assessed using scales of the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short-Form Health Survey.
Results: Our longitudinal analysis showed that high ERI-related work stress exposure at baseline was associated with a decrease in work ability, mental health and physical functioning over time. In case of work ability (b=-0.512; 95% CI -1.018 to -0.006) and mental health (b=-2.026; 95% CI -3.483 to -0.568), this also held true after adjusting for other factors of the work environment (physical demands, job control and psychological job demands).
Conclusions: Work stress by ERI has an impact on work ability independent of and above that of other known explanatory variables.