History of exposure to symptoms of common mental disorder in relation to extended working: British Household Panel Survey and Understanding Society

Presenter: Gareth Hagger-Johnson, University College London

Author: Gareth Hagger-Johnson

Co-author(s): Jenny Head, Ewan Carr and Emily Murray

Given the changing population age structure and associated policy challenges, governments in the UK and elsewhere are interested in factors that may influence extended working, defined here as working beyond age 50. The aim of our study was to determine the association between repeated exposure to symptoms of common mental disorder (e.g. anxiety, depression) over working life (age 16+), in relation to extended working (beyond age 50). The study population comprised >3000 participants in the British Household Panel Survey (1991/2008) available for follow-up in Understanding Society (2010/11). Repeated exposures to symptoms of common mental disorder were measured using the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) over a 17-year exposure window (1991/2008). Participants were grouped according to how many years they had exceeded the GHQ case threshold: 0-1, 2-5, 5+ years. The outcome was the odds of working 25+hrs/week at follow-up (2010/11), analysed using logistic regression and weighted for the study design. Adjusting for age and sex, from age 60 to 65, exposure to GHQ caseness for 5+ years (vs. 0-1 years) was associated with an 8% (95% CI 1%, 14%) reduction in the probability of working 25+hrs/week. There was no association between GHQ exposure and extended working between age 50 and 60. We will evaluate whether effects differ for men/women and for different socio-economic groups. We will also consider a wider range of confounding factors. These preliminary results suggest that exposure to symptoms of common mental disorder over working life influence the probability of extended working in later life.