211 Good work ability of the unemployed: assessment based on length of unemployment

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Work ability of the unemployed is lower compared to their working counterparts and it significantly drops after two years of unemployment. This study aims to examine factors that are associated with good work ability based on length of unemployment.


This study uses the data from 1981 unemployed or laid-off persons who responded to Finnish nationwide Regional Health and Well-being Study in 2014–2015. Logistic regression, adjusted for age and gender, was applied to analyse the association of several health and wellbeing factors, health behaviours, and work-related factors with good work ability, which was measured with Work Ability Score.


Short-term unemployed had significantly better work ability than long-term unemployed. For both groups, good self-rated health (short-term unemployed: OR 9.81, 95% CI: 4.34 to 22.17; long-term unemployed: OR 9.69, 95% CI: 3.93 to 23.40), high intense physical exercise (short-term: OR 4.27, 95% CI: 1.64 to 11.16; long-term: OR 2.89, 95% CI: 1.04 to 8.05), and belief in continuing to work until the retirement age (short-term: OR 11.75, 95% CI: 5.10 to 27.09; long-term: OR 8.47, 95% CI: 2.87 to 25.01) were associated with good work ability. For short-term unemployed, a former employment status as a wage or salary earner (OR 4.62, 95% CI: 1.45 to 14.76); and for long-term unemployed, good mental health (OR 7.36, 95% CI: 2.20 to 24.61) and good quality of life (OR 4.81, 95% CI: 1.75 to 13.20), were also associated with good work ability.


Despite the length of unemployment, good work ability seems to associate strongly with a belief that person could continue working until the retirement age. Health is a substantial resource of work ability for both groups, but for long-term unemployed in particular, work ability is strongly involved in overall wellbeing and quality of life. The importance of physical activity should be highlighted when designing interventions for promoting work ability of unemployed persons.

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