Impaired information processing and work ability
Cognitive symptoms are very common in people of working age, but most of the underlying factors can be treated in occupational health care. The most common underlying causes are low mood or anxiety, sleep disorders, stress and fatigue. On the other hand, more serious diseases affecting the brain can also cause similar cognitive symptoms at their early stage, and it is not easy to identify them using current methods. As a result of the prolongation of working careers, cognitive symptoms caused by a memory disorder or cerebrovascular disease, which become more common after the age of 60, now have an increasing incidence in work life. New assessment methods are needed as cognitive screening tests in older people are not sensitive enough to identify the milder changes in information processing and early memory disorders in working-age people.
From the point of view of coping at work and supporting the continuation of the career, it is essential to be able to identify and treat the underlying causes of cognitive symptoms. In addition, better methods are needed to assess the cognitive requirements of the work in order to correctly target job modifications.
The aim of the project is to develop methods applicable to occupational health care in order to assist in the early identification and more effective treatment of cognitive symptoms and the underlying causes. Another aim is to support the work ability of employees suffering from the symptoms of impaired information processing by developing methods for assessing the cognitive requirements of the work and the cognitive capacities of employees. This is important because the cognitive requirements of work vary from one profession to another and there are currently no methods for systematically assessing the cognitive requirements of work at an individual level in occupational health care.
Materials and techniques
The target group consists of persons of working age (under 65 years) who are referred to memory clinics in two university hospitals within 24 months. The target size of the group is 150–200 people. Early identification of symptoms and assessment of work ability are carried out with established clinical and cognitive assessment methods, surveys standardized in our previous study, and new computer-based tests and measurements in parallel. Follow-up measurements will be made at 6 and 12 months.
The data collected through the University Hospitals of Oulu and Kuopio offers an exceptional opportunity to examine employees suffering from cognitive impairment and the factors affecting their work ability.
Oulu University Hospital/Neurology
Kuopio University Hospital/Neurology
Project manager, chief psychologist
Christer Hublin, Jussi Virkkala, Teppo Valtonen, Anna-Leena Heikkinen, Kia Gluschkoff, Pasi Polvi,
The Finnish Work Environment Fund and Finnish Institute of Occupational Health