Job strain and trajectories of cognitive change before and after retirement

Academic Article


  • Objectives: We examined associations between job strain and trajectories of change in cognitive functioning (general cognitive ability plus verbal, spatial, memory, and speed domains) before and after retirement. Methods: Data on indicators of job strain, retirement age, and cognitive factors were available from 307 members of the Swedish Adoption/Twin Study of Aging. Participants were followed up for up to 27 years (mean = 15.4, SD = 8.5). Results: In growth curve analyses controlling for age, sex, education, depressive symptoms, cardiovascular health, and twinness, greater job strain was associated with general cognitive ability (estimate = -1.33, p =. 002), worse memory (estimate = -1.22, p =. 007), speed (estimate = -1.11, p =. 012), and spatial ability (estimate = -0.96, p =. 043) at retirement. Greater job strain was also associated with less improvement in general cognitive ability before retirement and a somewhat slower decline after retirement. The sex-stratified analyses showed that the smaller gains of general cognitive ability before retirement (estimate = -1.09, p =. 005) were only observed in women. Domain-specific analyses revealed that greater job strain was associated with less improvement in spatial (estimate = -1.35, p =. 010) and verbal (estimate = -0.64, p =. 047) ability before retirement in women and a slower decline in memory after retirement in women (estimate = 0.85, p =. 008) and men (estimate = 1.12, p =. 013). Neither preretirement nor postretirement speed was affected significantly by job strain. Discussion: Greater job strain may have a negative influence on overall cognitive functioning prior to and at retirement, while interrupting exposure to job strain (postretirement) may slow the rate of cognitive aging. Reducing the level of stress at work should be seen as a potential target for intervention to improve cognitive aging outcomes.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Nilsen C; Nelson ME; Andel R; Crowe M; Finkel D; Pedersen NL
  • Start Page

  • 1313
  • End Page

  • 1322
  • Volume

  • 76
  • Issue

  • 7