Self-management of health-behaviors among older and younger workers with chronic illness

Objective: To examine the self-management of health behaviors carried out by older (aged 50-69 years) and younger workers (aged 20-49 years) with a chronic illness. Methods: Questionnaire data was collected from 759 employees with a diagnosed chronic illness. Four categories of self-managing health behaviors were examined: using prescribed medication, monitoring and responding to symptoms. managing an appropriate diet and exercising. Results: The majority of participants (56-97%) reported being advised to carry out health behaviors at home and at work. Controlling for confounding factors, medication use was associated with younger and older workers. Managing an appropriate diet was associated with younger workers with asthma, musculoskeletal pain or diabetes. Exercising was associated with younger workers with asthma and with older workers with heart disease, arthritis and rheumatism or diabetes. Conclusions: The findings indicate that there are differences in diet and exercise activities among younger and older workers.Practice implications: To increase self-management in health behaviors at work, improved communication and understanding between the different health professions and the patient/employee is required so that different tailored approaches can be effectively targeted both by age and within the context of the working environment, to those managing asthma, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis and rheumatism.