Failing firefighters: a survey of causes of death and ill-health retirement in serving firefighters in Strathclyde, Scotland from 1985-94.
During the decade beginning 1 January 1985, 887 full-time firefighters, all male, left the service of Strathclyde Fire Brigade (SFB). There were 17 deaths--compared to 64.4 expected in the Scottish male population aged 15-54 years--giving a standardized mortality ratio (SMR) of 26, and 488 ill-health retirements (IHR). None of the deaths was attributable to service, the major causes being: myocardial infarction--five, (expected = 17.3; SMR = 29); cancers--three (colon, kidney and lung) (expected = 13.6; SMR = 22); road traffic accidents--two (expected = 4.17; SMR = 48) and suicide--two (expected = 4.9; SMR = 41). Amalgamating the deaths and IHRs showed that the six most common reasons for IHR were musculoskeletal (n = 202, 40%), ocular (n = 61, 12.1%), 'others' (n = 58, 11.5%), injuries (n = 50, 9.9%), heart disease (n = 48, 9.5%) and mental disorders (n = 45, 8.9%). Over 300 IHRs (over 60%) occurred after 20 or more years service. When the IHRs were subdivided into two quinquennia, there were 203 and 302 in each period. Mean length of service during each quinquennium was 19.4 vs. 21.3 years (p = 0.003) and median length was 21 years in both periods; interquartile range was 12-26 years in the first and 17-27 years in the second period (p = 0.002), but when further broken down into diagnostic categories, the differences were not statistically significant, with the exception of means of IHRs attributed to mental disorders (14.5 vs. 19 years, p = 0.03). (+info)
Shaping the future of Medicare.
This article suggests that further major changes in Medicare at this time are unwarranted. The enactment of the Balanced Budget Act (BBA) has eliminated the need for quick action to assure solvency of the Part A Trust Fund, which is projected to be in balance for at least ten years. It will take time to implement and assess the effects of the BBA. The uncertainties of future trends in the health sector and Medicare suggest a go-slow approach. Future reforms to finance health care as the baby boom generation retires should be guided by the goals of continuing to assure health and economic security to elderly and disabled beneficiaries, with particular attention to the financial burdens on lower-income beneficiaries and those with serious illnesses or chronic conditions. Employers are cutting back on retiree health coverage, and the appropriate contribution of employers will need to be addressed. The BBA included major provisions to expand Medicare managed care choices. Special attention will need to be given to how well these innovations work, their cost impact on Medicare, the extent to which beneficiaries are able to make informed choices, and whether risk selection among plans and between traditional Medicare and plans can be adequately addressed. Most of the savings of BBA came from tighter payment rates to managed care plans and fee-for-service providers; it is unclear whether these will lead to rates well below the private sector or whether further savings can be achieved by extending these changes beyond 2002. (+info)
Transitions in employment, morbidity, and disability among persons ages 51-61 with musculoskeletal and non-musculoskeletal conditions in the US, 1992-1994.
OBJECTIVE: To provide estimates of the prevalence of musculoskeletal conditions in a sample of persons ages 51-61 living in the community in the US in 1992, to indicate the incidence of such conditions between 1992 and 1994, and to describe the proportion of individuals with these conditions who developed or recovered from disability and who left and entered employment during this time. METHODS: The estimates were derived from the Health and Retirement Survey, consisting of data on a national probability sample of 8,739 persons, ages 51-61, who were interviewed in the community in 1992 and reinterviewed in 1994. RESULTS: In 1992, 62.4% of persons (14.4 million) between the ages of 51 and 61 years reported at least 1 musculoskeletal condition; the rate increased to 70.5% by 1994. More than 40% of persons with musculoskeletal conditions reported disability, which was almost 90% of all persons with disability in this age group. Persons with musculoskeletal conditions had lower employment rates, were less likely to enter employment, and were more likely to leave employment compared with persons without these conditions. High rates of disability account for much of these differences. CONCLUSION: Musculoskeletal conditions affected more than two-thirds of persons ages 51-61 and accounted for all but 10% of those with disabilities. The prevention of disability among such persons should improve their employment prospects. (+info)
At risk on the cusp of old age: living arrangements and functional status among black, white and Hispanic adults.
OBJECTIVES: We examine the relationship between living arrangements and multiple measures of physical, cognitive, and emotional functioning in late midlife. METHODS: Using cross-sectional data from the Health and Retirement Study, we first assess the bivariate relationship between living arrangements and functioning; we then take into account demographic characteristics and measures of household resources and demands. RESULTS: We find evidence of differential functioning among individuals in various living arrangements. Married couples living alone or with children show the highest levels of functioning, whereas single adults living in complex households show the lowest levels. Functional deficits for those in complex households are reduced but not eliminated when we take demographic characteristics and household resources and demands into account. We find few differences by gender and race/ethnicity in the relationship between living arrangements and functioning. DISCUSSION: We show a pattern of poorer functioning among those in arguably the most demanding and least supportive household environments. This points to a vulnerable and risk-filled transition from middle to old age for these persons. Because Blacks and Hispanics show lower levels of functioning than Whites and are more likely to live in complex households, they may be particularly disadvantaged. (+info)
Neuropsychological function in retired workers with previous long-term occupational exposure to solvents.
OBJECTIVES: It is plausible that neurodegenerative processes of aging might have a contributing role in the development of chronic effects of exposure to organic solvents. This study evaluated the risk for neuropsychological deficits among retired workers, relative to their histories of exposure to occupational solvents. METHODS: This cross sectional study evaluated retired male workers, 62-74 years of age, including 89 people with previous long-term occupational exposure to solvents (67 retired painters and 22 retired aerospace manufacturing workers), and 126 retired carpenters with relatively minimal previous exposure to solvents. Subjects completed a standardised neuropsychological evaluation and psychiatric interview, structured interviews for histories of occupational exposure and alcohol consumption, and questionnaires assessing neurological and depressive symptoms. RESULTS: By comparison with the carpenters, the painters on average reported greater cumulative alcohol consumption and had lower scores on the WAIS-R vocabulary subtest, usually presumed to reflect premorbid intellectual functioning. These findings, however, were not sufficient to account for the other study findings. Controlling for age, education, vocabulary score, and alcohol use, the painters had lower mean scores on test measures of motor, memory, and reasoning ability; and a subgroup of aerospace workers with moderate to high cumulative exposure to solvents (n = 8) had lower mean scores on measures of visuomotor speed, and motor, attention, memory, and reasoning ability. Subjects were more likely to have an increased number of relatively abnormal test scores (three or more outlier scores on 17 test measures) among both the painter group (odds ratio (OR), 3.1; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.5 to 6.2) and the subgroup of aerospace workers with higher cumulative exposure (OR 5.6; 95% CI 1.0 to 38). The painters, but not the aerospace workers, reported significantly more neurological and depressive symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: The findings are consistent with residual central nervous system dysfunction from long-term exposure to organic solvents, persisting years after the end of exposure. (+info)
Increased serum concentrations of growth factor receptors and Neu in workers previously exposed to asbestos.
OBJECTIVES: Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and oncogene Neu belong to a family of growth factor receptors which may play a part in carcinogenesis. Although increased serum concentrations of Neu and EGFR have been shown in several patients with asbestosis who later developed cancer, serum concentrations have not been studied in workers exposed in the past to asbestos but without asbestos related diseases. METHODS: Serum concentrations of secreted growth factor receptors were studied in 300 workers exposed in the past to asbestos and the results were compared with those of 70 controls. RESULTS: In the controls 4.3% (3/70) had EGFR values > 912 units/ml, compared with 39% (117/299) of the exposed group (p < 0.001). The difference in high values was even more pronounced for Neu with 4.3% of controls having Neu values > 2580 fmol/ml compared with 72% (216/299) of the exposed workers (p < 0.001). Pleural plaques predicted lower serum concentrations of EGFR but not lower Neu concentrations, and this finding remained significant after adjustment for age, exposure time, smoking, and time from initial exposure. CONCLUSIONS: Enhanced secretion of EGFR and Neu was found in a large cohort of retired asbestos workers with a wide range of exposure and latency periods. They did not have asbestosis or cancer and their EGFR values were higher in those without plaques. Further studies are needed to confirm our results, to determine the source of the secreted growth factor receptors, and to study their possible value as risk factors in the development of cancer. (+info)
Adjustment of Korean-American physicians in Korea: aspect of personal satisfaction.
This study was conducted to assess the psychosocial adjustment of Korean-American physicians in the aspect of personal satisfaction after returning to Korea. A questionnaire was mailed to 72 Korean-American physicians who were practicing medicine in Korea and forty physicians responded. These physicians, typically in their 50s, lived in America for 21-30 years before coming back to Korea. The most frequent motives for them to come back to Korea were giving back to their native country, longing for their native country, filial duty, and suggestions from their colleagues or professors to move back. Eighty percent of them were extremely satisfied or slightly satisfied with their work in Korea, and only 10% are extremely or slightly dissatisfied with their decision to return. Although most of them are content for the time being in Korea, only 12.5% have definite plans to stay in Korea after retirement. The variables that were most significantly related to personal satisfaction of returning to Korea were how well treated at work and how much satisfied with job rather than other factors such as motives for returning, duration of staying in America and in Korea, and family situation. (+info)
Sleep, age, and shiftwork experience.
The effects of age and shiftwork experience (never, past, present) on sleep were studied in a sample of 3236 wage earners and retired workers by means of a questionnaire. The sample was composed of 32-, 42-, 52-, and 62-year-old subjects, and included both sexes and various occupational statuses. Age resulted in a continuously increasing frequency of sleep disturbances and hypnotic use, except for difficulty getting back to sleep and early awakening, which peaked at 52 years and then decreased at 62 years, thus suggesting a 'retirement effect'. Current and past shiftworkers reported more problems with falling asleep and early awakening than subjects who had never worked on shifts. This is a likely explanation of why the effect of age was massive in the latter group and much less pronounced in the former groups. There were no clear effects of the length or recency of shiftwork experience. This finding does not support the hypothesized permanent effect of shiftwork experience on subsequent sleep. Females had higher complaint rates at every age. There was little interaction between age and sex, but women were affected more by shiftwork as they got older, particularly as to hypnotic consumption. Some of the results support the hypothesis that a selection process excludes workers who are no longer able to cope with the demands of shiftwork. (+info)