Women’s Occupational Patterns and Later Life Physical Functioning

Aimee J. Palumbo, Carolyn Cannuscio, Anneclaire J. De Roos, Lucy Robinson, Jana Mossey, Robert Wallace, Lorena Garcia, Aladdin H. Shadyab, Shawnita Sealy-Jefferson, Yvonne Michael

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: Timing and accumulation of work-related exposures may influence later life health. This study evaluates the association between women’s work patterns and physical functioning. Method: Work history and physical functioning information was collected at baseline for U.S. women ages 50 to 79 years in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study (N = 75,507). We estimated life course workforce participation patterns using latent class analysis. Associations between work patterns and physical limitations were explored using modified Poisson regression. Results: Compared with working continuously, women who left the workforce early had 8% increased risk and women who worked intermittently had 5% reduced risk of physical limitations later in life. The negative association with intermittent workforce participation was stronger for women with substantively complex work (9% reduced risk) than for women with nonsubstantively complex work (2% reduced risk). Discussion: Life course work patterns and characteristics may contribute to physical functioning later in life among women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Aging and Health
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • epidemiology
  • life course
  • physical function
  • women’s employment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Gerontology
  • Community and Home Care
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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