What is the number of years people can be healthy and work with musculoskeletal conditions? Researchers say ages 50-70 can be risky for health
According to the “healthy working life expectancy”, on average, working people’s health begins to deteriorate at least five years before they reach state pension age, which is currently 66 years – and is set to increase.
Healthy working life expectancy was defined as the average number of years expected to be spent healthy (no limiting long-standing illness) and in paid work (employment or self-employment) from age 50 years.
However, for people with musculoskeletal conditions, those aged between 50-70 usually should not work for as long as people who don’t have these conditions as it puts their health at risk.
Keele University studied the impact of musculoskeletal conditions, such as back pain and osteoarthritis, on the number of years that people can be healthy and at work.
Two out of five people with arthritis report it having a negative impact on their working life
Naturally, as the healthy working life expectancy notes, those with musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis and back pain may find working life particularly hard, especially as they age.
The report highlights that at least two out of five working-aged people with arthritis report that their condition has a negative impact on their working life, and one in four people with arthritis report retiring earlier from work than they otherwise would have.
Overall, the healthy working life expectancy is estimated to be at age 50 years in England – which is far below the remaining years of the State Pension age.
This is a concern for the ageing population, as governments around the world are encouraging people to work for longer, meaning these findings will be hugely important across several sectors including for policymakers, healthcare providers, and businesses.
This research could inspire change in healthcare and government
The findings will be hugely important across a number of sectors, including for the Government when reviewing whether to increase state pension age, and guiding approaches by healthcare providers, employers and employees to increase healthy working life for people with musculoskeletal conditions.
Professor Ross Wilkie, who is leading the research, said: “This grant will allow us to further build the population level research focusing on musculoskeletal conditions and work at Keele.
“Musculoskeletal conditions, such as back pain and arthritis, along with mental health conditions are commonly associated with work loss and reduce the length of time that people are healthy and in work.
“We will build a large synthetic database, with 700,000 people in it, to identify a range of opportunities that can increase healthy working life for people with musculoskeletal conditions.
“We will also work with key stakeholders to facilitate the implementation of our findings to improve work participation. We are looking forward to working with the Nuffield Foundation and Versus Arthritis.”
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