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Associations Between Age, Psychosocial Work Conditions, Occupational Well-Being, and Telomere Length in Geriatric Care Professionals: A Mixed-Methods Study

Chmelar, Caroline MD; Jörres, Rudolf A. PhD; Kronseder, Angelika CTA; Müller, Andreas PhD; Nowak, Dennis MD; Weigl, Matthias

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: October 2017 - Volume 59 - Issue 10 - p 949–955
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001102
Original Articles

Objective: We identified associations between age, psychosocial work characteristics, occupational well-being, and—as a measure of biological age—leukocyte telomere length in geriatric care professionals.

Methods: This is a multisource study of self-reports on psychosocial work characteristics, standardized physician's evaluations of health, and relative telomere length measures of peripheral blood leukocytes. We included 141 geriatric care professionals. Telomere length was assessed by an improved polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based method.

Results: Increased depersonalization was associated with shorter telomeres. Their association with age was not moderated by psychosocial work conditions. There was, however, a significant three-way interaction of social support and work ability with the age–telomere association. Additionally, social support and adverse general health moderated the age–telomere length relationship.

Conclusions: A supportive work environment and work-related health may influence the association between age and telomere length.

Institute and Clinic for Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (Dr Chmelar, Dr Jörres, Ms Kronseder, Dr Nowak, Mr Weigl); Institute for Occupational, Social, and Environmental Medicine, Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf (Dr Müller), Germany.

Address correspondence to: Caroline Chmelar, MD, Institute and Clinic for Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Ziemssenstrasse 1, 80336 Munich, Germany (

Fundings: This study was partly funded by the Munich Centre for Health Sciences (MC-Health).

Authors Chmelar, Jörres, Kronseder, Müller, Nowak, and Weigl have no relationships/conditions/circumstances that present potential conflict of interest.

The JOEM editorial board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.

Copyright © 2017 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine