The Impact of Poor Health Behaviors on Workforce Disability
by Caroline R. Richardson, Jennifer T. Hanlon, Hillary J. Mull, Sandeep Vijan, Rodney Hayward, Linda Wray and Kenneth M. Langa
The effects of poor health habits on mortality have been studied extensively. However,
few studies have examined the impact of these health behaviors on workforce disability.
In the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative cohort of 6044 Americans
who were between the ages of 51 and 61 and who were working in 1992, we found that
both baseline smoking status and a sedentary lifestyle predict workforce disability six
years later. If this relationship is causal, cost-benefit analyses of health behavior
intervention that neglect workforce disability may substantially underestimate the
benefits of such interventions.
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