"Complexity of work and risk of Alzheimer's disease: a population-based study of Swedish twins"
by Andel, Ross; Crowe, Michael; Pedersen, Nancy L; Mortimer, James; Crimmins, Eileen; Johansson, Boo; Gatz, Margaret (2005)
We examined the association between risk of dementia or Alzheimer's disease (AD) and occupation by using measures of complexity of work with data, people, and things. The study included 10,079 members of the population-based Swedish Twin Registry who were participants in the HARMONY study. We diagnosed dementia by means of a two-stage procedure--cognitive impairment screening followed by full clinical evaluation. We analyzed data with case-control and cotwin control designs. The cotwin control design provides control over genetic and familial factors. In the case-control study, controlling for age, gender, and level of education, we found that more complex work with people was associated with reduced risk of AD. Greater complexity of work with people and data was protective in twin pairs discordant for AD. Findings suggest that greater complexity of work, and particularly complex work with people, may reduce the risk of AD.
We found that, when we took age, gender, and level of education into account, higher complexity of work with people in main lifetime occupation was associated with a reduced risk of all types of dementia and AD only. Controlling for age, gender, and level of education, we found that the association between lower complexity of work with things and a reduced risk of dementia was marginally significant ( p ¼ .05) but not significant for AD only. When we added complexity of work with data and things into the same model, higher complexity of work with people was protective against AD only (odds ratio or OR ¼ 0.78; 95% confidence interval or CI ¼ 0.63, 0.98). The result for complexity of work with people and risk of all types of dementia was only marginal (OR ¼ 0.84; 95% CI ¼ 0.71, 1.00; p ¼ .05), and other complexity dimensions showed no significant associations. No significant findings for complexity of work with data emerged in the case-control analyses. Because the measure of complexity of work with people was skewed, we also conducted the same analyses by using log-transformed complexity measures. The results remained unchanged. (p.255)
KeywordsAgeing, Older Workers, Retirement, Complex Work, Mental Development, Psychological Functioning, Dementia, Cognitive Impairments
ThemesPsychological Centrality of Work
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