What Are the Key Workplace Influences on Pathways of Work Ability? A Six-Year Follow Up Academic Article uri icon


  • Objective: To study the trajectories of work ability and investigate the impact of multisite pain and working conditions on pathways of work ability over a six-year period. Methods: The longitudinal study was conducted with Finnish food industry workers (n = 866) with data collected every 2 years from 2003–2009. Questions covered musculoskeletal pain, physical and psychosocial working conditions (physical strain, repetitive movements, awkward postures; mental strain, team support, leadership, possibility to influence) and work ability. Latent class growth analysis and logistic regression were used to analyse the impact of multisite pain and working conditions on work ability trajectories (pathways). Results: Three trajectories of work ability emerged: decreasing (5%), increasing (5%), and good (90%). In the former two trajectories, the mean score of work ability changed from good to poor and poor to good during follow-up, while in the latter, individuals maintained good work ability during the follow-up. In the multivariable adjusted model, number of pain sites was significantly associated with higher odds of belonging to the trajectory of poor work ability (Odds ratio (OR) 4 pain sites 2.96, 1.25–7.03). Conclusions: A substantial number of employees maintained good work ability across the follow up. However, for employees with poor work ability, multisite musculoskeletal pain has an important influence, with effective prevention strategies required to reduce its prevalence.


publication date

  • 2019