O. Mittag, T. Meyer, N. Glaser-Möller
May 1, 2006
PURPOSE: Vocational (dis-)ability is a key concept in social medicine. It plays a major role in the realm of statutory pension funds (e. g. appraisal of applications for early retirement) as well as in epidemiologic or rehabilitation research. In a former population-based survey reliability of a short scale assessing the subjective prognosis of gainful employment (SPE-Scale, range = 0 - 3) had been tested. We now wanted to explore whether the SPE-Scale allows a prediction of vocational outcomes (early retirement) in the population sample over longer periods of time. METHODS: Statutory pension insurees from Luebeck and surroundings aged between 40 and 55 were surveyed by questionnaire in 1999/2000. For 4225 subjects (= 95% of the original cohort) we obtained the following outcome data from pension fund records: dates of any applications for early retirement and beginning of retirement, date of death. The follow-up period covers 4.75 years on average. During this period 323 applications for early retirement (= 7.6%) were filed, and 200 subjects (= 4.7%) actually retired. RESULTS: First analysis including age and sex as covariates showed a threefold (SPE = 2) and eightfold (SPE = 3) risk of early retirement. Multivariate analysis (covariates: overall health status, number of chronic conditions, approved disability, subjective vocational ability, and length of sick leave measured at study onset) yielded a twofold risk of filing an application for early retirement (SPE = 3). CONCLUSIONS: The SPE-Scale is an appropriate screening instrument for hazards regarding gainful employment. It also can be recommended for use in epidemiologic or rehabilitation surveys.