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Health Status and Risk Indicator Trends of the Aging US Health Care Workforce

Lee, David J. PhD; Fleming, Lora E. MD, PhD, MPH, MSc; LeBlanc, William G. PhD; Arheart, Kristopher L. EdD; Ferraro, Kenneth F. PhD; Pitt-Catsouphes, Marcie PhD; Muntaner, Carles MD, PhD; Fernandez, Cristina A. MSEd; Caban-Martinez, Alberto J. DO, PhD, MPH; Davila, Evelyn P. PhD; Bandiera, Frank C. MPH; Lewis, John E. PhD; Kachan, Diana BS

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: April 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 4 - p 497–503
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318247a379
Original Articles

Objectives: To describe the health status and risk indicator trends in a representative sample of US health care workers aged 45 years and older.

Methods: Using pooled data from the 1997 to 2009 National Health Interview Survey, logistic regression analyses were performed to determine whether age-group specific morbidity risks differed within occupational subgroups of the health care workforce (N = 6509). Health and morbidity trends were examined via complex survey adjusted and weighted chi-squared tests.

Results: Rates of functional limitation and hypertension increased among diagnosing/assessing health care workers. The prevalence of hearing impairment, cancer, and hypertension was two to three times greater in health-diagnosing/assessing workers aged 60 years and older than in younger workers. Health care service workers were up to 19 times more likely to be obese than workers who diagnose/assess health.

Conclusions: Healthier workplaces and targeted interventions are needed to optimize the ability to meet health care demands of this aging workforce.

From the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health (Drs Lee, Fleming, LeBlanc, Arheart, Caban-Martinez, Davila, Mr Bandiera, Ms Fernandez, and Ms Kachan), and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Dr Lewis), University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Fla.; European Centre of Environment and Human Health (ECEHH) (Dr Fleming), University of Exeter, Truro, Cornwall, UK; Center on Aging and the Life Course (Dr Ferraro), Purdue University West Lafayette, Ind.; Center on Aging & Work/Workplace Flexibility (Dr Pitt-Catsouphes), Boston College Chestnut Hill, Mass.; and Department of Nursing (Dr Muntaner), University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Address correspondence to: David J. Lee, PhD, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, 1120 NW 14th St, Rm 1530, Miami, FL 33136 (

Disclosure: The study was supported by National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, 2R01OH003915and 1F30AG040886-01 and by EU ERDF Funding (ECEHH). The authors declare no conflict of interest.

©2012The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine