In her PhD thesis, MD Elina Bergman examined factors associated with quality of life and self-reported work ability among the employees of the city of Pori. Sleep quality was found to be an especially important factor connected with both quality of life and work ability. In addition, ideal cardiovascular health as well as frequent use of healthy food items was associated with good quality of life. Occupational stress, chronic illnesses, depressive symptoms, anxiety and overweight were associated with poorer quality of life.
Occupational stress also had a strong connection with poorer work ability.
Quality of life may be the most comprehensive concept to define a person’s wellbeing. Positive impact on quality of life is nowadays also regarded as an important indicator of the quality of healthcare. Work ability is of great importance as well, both for the employees themselves and for the public economy. In her PhD thesis, Elina Bergman examined which factors are associated with quality of life and self-reported work ability among the employees of the city of Pori in southwest Finland.
In this study, sleep quality was found to be strongly connected with both quality of life and work ability. An improvement in sleep quality was also associated with an improvement in quality of life and work ability in a one-year follow-up. In addition, increased use of sleep medication was associated with a decline in work ability.
– All these results show the crucial importance of sleep for our well-being. I think healthcare professionals should ask patients about their sleep the same way they ask about exercise and nutrition, and there should also be effective treatments available for diagnosed sleep problems, Bergman considers.
– In addition, we all should learn to appreciate sleep, have a lifestyle that supports good sleep, and at least try not to sleep too little.
Cardiovascular risk factors and protective factors are also associated with quality of life
Bergman’s thesis is part of the PORTAAT (PORi to Aid Against Threats) Study, which aims to examine cardiovascular risk and protective factors among the employees of the city of Pori. Altogether 836 voluntary employees participated in the study in 2014 and 2015. Information was gathered with self-administered questionnaires, and physical examinations and laboratory measurements were performed. Most of the participants were women.
In her study, Bergman also examined how the traditional cardiovascular risk and protective factors are associated with quality of life.
The participants’ cardiovascular health was evaluated using the American Heart Association’s concept of ‘Ideal cardiovascular health’, which provides cut-off values for optimal levels of seven essential metrics of cardiovascular health. The aim of the concept is to be non-smoking, have normal weight, have a healthy diet and fulfil the recommendations for physical activity. In addition, blood pressure, blood cholesterol and fasting glucose should be on a favourable level. Bergman discovered that those participants who achieved more ideal metrics also assessed their quality of life being better on average.
In a separate study, the frequent use of healthy food items was associated with better quality of life among the female participants. The use of unhealthy food items was not associated with quality of life in this study.
– However, the unhealthy foods have of course a lot of adverse effects on health, Bergman observes.
In the study, the healthy and unhealthy food items were defined according to Nordic Nutrition Recommendations. The food items considered healthy were for example vegetables, fruit and berries, fish, whole grain products, vegetable oils, and nuts.
– I think that the list of healthy food items might be used as a very simple diet counselling for example at the short doctors’ appointments in primary healthcare. And maybe the motivation for a lifestyle change could be more easily found from well-being and good quality of life than from the threat of heart disease in a decade, Bergman suggests.
MD Elina Bergman’s academic dissertation of the thesis ”Quality of life among public sector employees of the city of Pori, with reference to self-reported work ability” will be presented on November 11th, 2022, at the University of Turku, Faculty of Medicine.
Source: University of Turku