Purpose The goals of this study were to determine whether, among older employees, unfavourable physical and psychosocial work-related factors were associated with poorer mental and physical health and whether high work engagement buffered the associations between unfavourable work-related factors and poorer health. Methods A 1-year longitudinal study with employed persons aged 45-64 was conducted within the Study on Transitions in Employment, Ability and Motivation (n = 8,837). Using an online questionnaire, work-related factors (physical: physical load; psychosocial: psychological job demands, autonomy, and support) and work engagement were measured at baseline and health at baseline and 1-year follow-up. General linear models were used to assess associations of work-related factors and work engagement with health. Tests of interaction terms assessed whether work engagement buffered the work-related factor-health associations. Results Unfavourable psychosocial work-related factors at baseline were associated with poorer mental health at follow-up. Higher physical load, higher psychological job demands, and lower autonomy at baseline were associated with poorer physical health at follow-up. Higher work engagement at baseline was related to better physical and especially better mental health during the 1-year follow-up. Work engagement had a small effect on the associations between work-related factors and health. Conclusions Among older employees, especially the promotion of a high work engagement and, to a lesser extent, favourable work-related factors can be beneficial for mental health in particular.
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