The work ability index and functional capacity among older workers

Rosimeire S. Padula Maria L. C. Comper Suzana A. Moraes Catherine Sabbagh Wagner Pagliato Junior Monica R. Perracini About the authors


Decreases in functional ability due to aging can impair work capacity and productivity among older workers.


This study compares the sociodemographics, health conditions, and physical functioning abilities of young and old workers as well as correlates of physical functioning capacity with the work ability index (WAI).


This exploratory, cross-sectional study examined employees of a higher education institution (HEI) and those of a metallurgical industry. Older workers (50 years old or above) were matched for gender and occupation type with younger workers (less than 50 years old). The following evaluations were applied: the multidimensional assessment questionnaire (which included sociodemographic, clinical, health perception, and physical health indices), the WAI, and a battery of physical functional tests.


Diseases and regularly used medications were more common among the group of aging workers. The WAI did not differ between groups (p=0.237). Both groups showed similar physical functional capacity performances with regard to walking speed, muscle strength, and lower limb physical functioning. Aging workers showed a poorer performance on a test of right-leg support (p=0.004). The WAI was moderately correlated with the sit-to-stand test among older female workers (r=0.573, p=0.051).


Unfavorable general health conditions did not affect the assessment of work ability or most of the tests of physical functional capacity in the aging group.

aging; work; occupational health; work ability; functional capacity; physical therapy

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