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Earlier retirement for people with chronic musculoskeletal pain

Musculoskeletal pain is forcing older adults out of the workforce sooner than expected

Date:
March 20, 2024
Source:
University of Portsmouth
Summary:
Frequent musculoskeletal pain is linked with an increased risk of exiting work and retiring earlier, according to a new study.
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Frequent musculoskeletal pain is linked with an increased risk of exiting work and retiring earlier, according to a new study from the University of Portsmouth.

The paper published this week in open-access journal PLOS ONE found the association between musculoskeletal pain and retiring earlier persisted even after accounting for working conditions, job satisfaction and sex.

Dr Nils Niederstrasser and colleagues used data on 1,156 individuals aged 50+ living in England who took part in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Over the course of the 14-year data collection period, 1,073 of the individuals retired.

The researchers found that people with musculoskeletal pain complaints tended to retire earlier compared to pain-free participants. Participants suffering from musculoskeletal pain were also 1.25 times more likely to cease work sooner, whether or not they described themselves as retired.

Previous studies have shown higher rates of absenteeism, reduced working capacity and reduced income for people with chronic musculoskeletal pain, but few studies have specifically focused on the effects of chronic pain on the employment status of older populations.

Dr Niederstrasser, from the University's Department of Psychology, said: "The older you get, the more prevalent pain becomes. This paper really highlights the scope of the problem, which found that pain -- above and beyond all other variables -- is predicting whether or not someone retires earlier."

Other factors associated with earlier retirement age included higher work dissatisfaction and higher self-perceived social status. Frequent musculoskeletal pain remained a significant predictor of earlier retirement and risk of finishing work at earlier ages even when taking into account the influence of job satisfaction, depressive symptoms, self-perceived social status, sex, and working conditions.

The authors conclude that pain experiences can lead to poor work outcomes and point out that further research should establish the mechanisms and decision making involved in leaving the workforce for people with frequent musculoskeletal pain.

Dr Niederstrasser added: "It is remarkable that pain predicts earlier retirement and work cessation to a similar extent or even more strongly than other variables, such as job satisfaction or specific job demands. It shows just how much impact pain can have on all aspects of people's lives.

"For people to remain in the workforce in good health, pain needs to be addressed much earlier on. If people retire earlier because they can't work anymore, but they don't necessarily have the pension built up or the income to support themselves, we're heading towards a crisis. We already have problems with older people living in poverty, and this is only going to get worse."


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Portsmouth. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nils Georg Niederstrasser, Elaine Wainwright, Martin J. Stevens. Musculoskeletal pain affects the age of retirement and the risk of work cessation among older people. PLOS ONE, 2024; 19 (3): e0297155 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0297155

Cite This Page:

University of Portsmouth. "Earlier retirement for people with chronic musculoskeletal pain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2024. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/03/240320160452.htm>.
University of Portsmouth. (2024, March 20). Earlier retirement for people with chronic musculoskeletal pain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/03/240320160452.htm
University of Portsmouth. "Earlier retirement for people with chronic musculoskeletal pain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/03/240320160452.htm (accessed April 24, 2024).

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