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To explore associations of occupational factors with a high need for recovery (HNFR) in different age groups.The need for recovery (NFR) is a short term health effect, predictive for future long term adverse mental health effects.This was a cross-sectional study in 17 400 subjects (75.7% participation rate), working in 128 organisations (both private and public). The subjects were divided into 8 age groups.NFR was assessed by the NFR scale questionnaire (0–100 scale). High need for recovery (NFR >45) was used as outcome variable.20 work related psychosocial factors were assessed: 13 originating from the Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire (COPSOQ II short version) and 7 were developed within our service. Other variables were: physical workload, gender and age (total study population).Multivariate log-binomial regression analyses were used to calculate regression coefficients for a HNFR, for the total population and for each age group separately.General prevalence of HNFR was 35.9%. Prevalences were significantly different between the different age groups, ranging from 23.8% to 39.1%.Physical workload, quantitative demands, work-life balance and discomfort from physical work environment had a significant association with HNFR in all age groups.Emotional demands, organisational social capital, participation in decision making, possibilities for development, growth opportunities, working more hours than desired, job insecurity, undesirable behaviour and gender were additionally significant in one or more age groups.Four occupational factors need to be considered throughout the whole career. Additional and different factors need to be taken into account according to age group.