Worked to Death? A census-based longitudinal study of the relationship between the numbers of hours spent working and mortality risk

Dermot O'Reilly, Michael Rosato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background There has been an increasing interest in the health effects of long
working hours, but little empirical evidence to substantiate early
10 case series suggesting an increased mortality risk. The aim of the
current study is to quantify the mortality risk associated with long
working hours and to see if this varies by employment relations and
conditions of occupation.
Methods A census-based longitudinal study of 414 949 people aged 20-59/64
15 years, working at least 35 h/week, subdivided into four occupational
classes (managerial/professional, intermediate, own account workers,
workers in routine occupations) with linkage to deaths records
over the following 8.7 years. Cox proportional hazards models were
used to examine all-cause and cause-specific mortality risk.
20 Results Overall 9.4% of the cohort worked 55 or more h/week, but this
proportion was greater in the senior management and professional
occupations and in those who were self-employed. Analysis of 4447
male and 1143 female deaths showed that hours worked were
associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality only for
25 men working for more than 55 or more h/week in routine/semiroutine
occupations [adjusted hazard ratios (adjHR) 1.31: 95%
confidence intervals (CIs) 1.11, 1.55)] compared with their peers
working 35–40 h/week. Their equivalent risk of death from cardiovascular
disease was (adjHR 1.49: 95% CIs 1.10, 2.00).
30 Conclusions These findings substantiate and add to the earlier studies indicating
the deleterious impact of long working hours but also suggest that
the effects are moderated by employment relations or conditions of
occupation. The policy implications of these findings are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberdyt211
Pages (from-to)1820-1830
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Volume42
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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