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BMC Health Serv Res. 2016 Sep 5;16 Suppl 5:329. doi: 10.1186/s12913-016-1518-z.

Workplace health promotion for older workers: a systematic literature review.

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Department of Public Health, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy.
Department of Public Health, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy.
Department of Gerontology, Orthopedics and Neuroscience, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy.
Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.



Aging of the workforce is a growing problem. As workers age, their physical, physiological and psychosocial capabilities change. Keeping older workers healthy and productive is a key goal of European labor policy and health promotion is a key to achieve this result. Previous studies about workplace health promotion (WHP) programs are usually focused on the entire workforce or to a specific topic. Within the framework of the EU-CHAFEA ProHealth65+ project, this paper aims to systematically review the literature on WHP interventions specifically targeted to older workers (OWs).


This systematic review was conducted by making a comprehensive search of MEDLINE, ISI Web of Science, SCOPUS, The Cochrane Library, CINAHL and PsychINFO databases. Search terms included ageing (and synonyms), worker (and synonyms), intervention (and synonyms), and health (and synonyms). The search was limited to papers in English or Italian published between January, 1(st) 2000 and May, 31(st) 2015. Relevant references in the selected articles were also analyzed.


Of the 299 articles initially identified as relating to the topic, 18 articles met the inclusion criteria. The type, methods and outcome of interventions in the WHP programs retrieved were heterogenous, as was the definition of the age at which a worker is considered to be 'older'. Most of the available studies had been conducted on small samples for a limited period of time.


Our review shows that, although this issue is of great importance, studies addressing WHP actions for OWs are few and generally of poor quality. Current evidence fails to show that WHP programs improve the work ability, productivity or job retention of older workers. In addition, there is limited evidence that WHP programs are effective in improving lifestyles and concur to maintain the health and well-being of older workers. There is a need for future WHP programs to be well-designed so that the effectiveness and cost-benefit of workplace interventions can be properly investigated.


Active ageing; Ageism; Aging workforce; Frailty; Labor policy; Lifelong learning; Lifestyle; Occupational health; Public health; Workplace health promotion

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