Plenary Keynote Speaker - Hugo Westerlund

Prof., Stress Research Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

Hugo Westerlund is Professor of Epidemiology as well as Director and Head of the Stress Research Institute at Stockholm University. He investigates how social and psychological exposures across the life course impact on health, mortality and quality of life.

A recurrent theme has been labour market participation, and lately a main focus has been on ageing workers and retirement, as well as the prerequisites and consequences of extended working lives. Hugo works mainly with large, longitudinal cohort studies from several different countries, including the French GAZEL, British Whitehall II, and Swedish SLOSH and WOLF studies. He has a large network of leading social epidemiologists and is currently leading a multi-national project on determanints of healthy life expectancy as well as a Forte financed research programme on healthy and productive work in later life.

He is also engaged in projects about open plan office environments, mental health development in early life, risk factors for sickness absence and presenteeism, and validation of questionnaires to assess the psychosocial work environment. An overarching ambition is to provide better evidence about causal relationships between modifiable environmental exposures and health outcomes, increasingly taking moderating factors such as personality and genetics into account.

The title of his keynote will be "Healthy work or healthy retirement? Research on the relationship between psychosocial working conditions, prolonged working life, retirement and health".

As governments are trying to push up retirement age it becomes increasingly important to understand the factors that influence health and workability in older people. While most people are healty enough to work beyond the standard retirement age of today, some studies indicate that retirement may bring relief in those with suboptimal health, but also that working longer could be healthy for others. The keynote will review the research literature and present some recent data on the long-term effects of working conditions amongst older workers, leading on to a discussion about the potential consequences for health and inequalities of a prolonged working life.