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Work ability of aging teachers in Bulgaria

Katya Vangelova 1  ,  
National Center of Public Health and Analyses, Sofia, Bulgaria (Department “Health at Work”)
Objectives: The work ability of aging teachers is of special interest because of high risk of stress. The aim of the study was to follow the work ability of aging teachers and compare it with that of aging non-teacher professionals. Material and Methods: The study included 424 teachers of age ≤ 44 years old (N = 140) and ≥ 45 years old (N = 284), with about 10% male teachers in both age groups, matched by sex and age with non-teacher professionals. Work ability was assessed by means of the Work Ability Index (WAI). Chi2 tests and regression analyses were used for studying WAI scales ratings, diagnosed by physician diseases and WAI ratings. Results: Our data shows comparatively high work ability for both age groups of teachers but WAI of aging teachers was significantly lower in comparison to their younger colleagues as well as aging non-teacher professionals. About 80% of aging groups reported diseases diagnosed by physicians. Cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and respiratory diseases were the most frequently reported by aging teachers, while teachers ≤ 44 years old reported respiratory, cardiovascular, neurological and sensory diseases. With aging significantly higher rates of arterial hypertension, diabetes, injury to hearing and mental disorders were reported by teachers as compared to aging non-teacher professionals. The rates of reported repeated infections of respiratory tracts were high in both age groups of teachers, especially in the group of aging teachers. The estimated work ability impairment due to the disease showed the significant effect of aging for teachers as well as the significant difference when comparing aging teachers and non-teacher professionals. Conclusions: Our data shows high work ability for both age groups of teachers but significantly lower for aging teachers accompanied with higher rates of psychosomatic diseases, including hearing impairment and respiratory diseases. Preservation of teacher health could contribute to maintenance of their work ability and retention in the labor market.
Katya Vangelova   
National Center of Public Health and Analyses, Department “Health at Work”, 15 Acad. Iv. Ev. Geshov Boul., 1431 Sofia, Bulgaria