Understanding the employment needs and experiences of baby boomers with arthritis and diabetes

Reasons for the study

Canadians are living longer, and our longer life expectancy and the disappearance of mandatory retirement at age 65 means that many Canadians are making decisions about when, or even whether, they should stop working as they get older. However, we lack information about how characteristics of many chronic health conditions that arise with age may create unique challenges for workers. This includes the challenges associated with conditions like arthritis and diabetes, which are episodic and unpredictable in terms of their symptoms. This study is an important first step in understanding the interplay between health and work among workers 50-67 years old with an episodic health condition.

Objectives of the study

  • To describe the extent to which remaining employed is a priority among baby boomers as they age
  • To examine the experiences and perceived effects of working with an episodic health condition, as well as factors that act as barriers or facilitate working
  • To examine characteristics of episodic health conditions (e.g. symptom unpredictability, invisibility) and their association with work outcomes (e.g. job disruptions, absenteeism).

Anticipated results/impact

The results will provide insights into the experiences, need, and expectations of working baby boomers, which can help inform and enhance policies, practices and interventions to help older workers sustain their employment.

Related scientific publications

Gignac MA, Ibrahim S, Smith PM, Kristman V, Beaton DE, Mustard C. The role of sex, gender, health factors, and job context in workplace accommodation use among men and women with arthritis. Annals of Work Exposures and Health. 2018;62(4):490-504. doi:10.1093/annweh/wxx115 .

Related interviews and articles

Project status


Research team

Monique Gignac, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
Dorcas Beaton, Institute for Work & Health
Vicki Kristman, Institute for Work & Health
Cameron Mustard, Institute for Work & Health
Peter Smith, Institute for Work & Health
Elizabeth Badley, University Health Network

Funded by

Canadian Institutes of Health Research