Perception of work conditions

Perception of work conditions

LASA filenames:

Contact: Dorly Deeg


Due to changes in retirement policies in the past decades, older workers in the 2010s are working up to older ages than their age peers in the decades before. This is also true for workers with health limitations (van der Noordt et al 2019), implying that the number of older workers with health limitations has increased. The fact that the statutory retirement age is still being raised will likely lead to a further rise in the number of employees with health limitations. In order to prevent health limitations, it is important to identify its predictors. Among the predictors known from previous research, work conditions take a prominent position (e.g., Mänty et al 2015; Leijten et al 2015). Work conditions include not only organizational aspects, but also the perceptions of these conditions by workers themselves. The latter are likely to be useful for understanding worker agency and commitment, and may differ among workers in the same job (Schmitz et al 2019). Thus, in addition to the General Population Job Exposure Matrix (GPJEM) (see documentation) which reflects average work demands and resources in a specific occupational group, the perception of work demands is included among the LASA measurements as of 2012/2013 (wave 3B).

Measurement instruments in LASA

A widely used model for work conditions is the job demands-resources (JD-R) model. In this model, job demands are the main predictors of negative job strain, whereas job resources are the most important predictors of work engagement (Karasek and Theorell 1990). Physical work demands include, for example, use of force and work in uncomfortable position. Psychosocial work demands include, for example, cognitive demands (e.g., intensive thinking, need to keep focused, requiring much concentration), and task requirements (e.g., work fast, much work). Psychosocial work resources include, for example, variation in activities, degree of autonomy, and social support received from supervisors or co-workers.

The 21-item LASA questionnaire on perceptions of work conditions covers each of these domains. It is based on questionnaires used in the Study on Transitions in Employment, Ability and Motivation (STREAM, van den Heuvel et al 2018) and in the Netherlands Working Conditions Survey 2008 (Koppes et al 2011). Fourteen items correspond to items included in the GPJEM:

Physical demands: use of force, uncomfortable position.

Psychological demands: work fast, much work, intensive thinking, concentration, attention.

Psychosocial resources: decide about how work is performed, about days off, variety in work, learn new things, help from colleagues, interest from colleagues, help from supervisor, interest from supervisor.


LAS3B106 / LASMB106 / LASAI106 / LASAJ106  / LASAK106 (3B, I, J, K: self-administered questionnaire, MB: medical interview: in Dutch)

Variable information

LAS3B106 / LASMB106 / LASAI106 / LASAJ106 / LASAK106 (MB not available yet)

Availability of information per wave


Perception of work conditions


1 More information about the LASA data collection waves is available here.

* 2B=baseline second cohort;
3B=baseline third cohort;
MB=migrants: baseline first cohort (not available yet)

Sa=data collected in self-administered questionnaire
Me=data collected in medical interview

Previous use in LASA

So far, the work perception questionnaire has not been used as such. Two items on physical demands that correspond between the GPJEM and the questionnaire have been studied in a bachelor thesis, i.e., use of force and uncomfortable position. In lower educated older workers with depressive symptoms, the perceived physical work demands increased over time, whereas the objective, GPJEM-derived physical work demands remained stable (Meijer 2019).


  1. Karasek RA, Theorell T. Healthy work: stress, productivity and the reconstruction of working life. New York (NY): Basic Books 1990.
  2. Koppes LLJ, de Vroome EMM, Mol MEM, et al. Nationale Enquête Arbeidsomstandigheden 2010: Methodologie en globale resultaten. [Netherlands Working Conditions Survey 2010: Methodology and overall results]. 2011. TNO, Hoofddorp.
  3. Leijten FR, de Wind A, van den Heuvel SG, Ybema JF, van der Beek AJ, Robroek SJ, et al. The influence of chronic health problems and work-related factors on loss of paid employment among older workers. J Epidemiol Community Health 2015; 69(11): 1058-1065.
  4. Mänty M, et al. Changes in working conditions and physical health functioning among midlife and ageing employees. Scand J Work Environ Health 2015; 41(6): 511–518.
  5. Meijer MS. Changes during three years in physical work demands and health of older workers. Amsterdam UMC, department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics/LASA, 22 November 2019. In Dutch.
  6. Schmitz LL, McCLuney CL, Sonnega A, Hicken MT. Interpreting subjective and objective measures of job resources: the importance of sociodemographic context. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2019; 16: 3058.
  7. van den Heuvel S, Geuskens G, Bouwhuis S, Niks I. Study on Transitions in Employment, Ability and Motivation (STREAM). Methodological report. Leiden: TNO, 2018. In Dutch (English version available at
  8. van der Noordt M, van der Pas S, van Tilburg TG, van den Hout A, Deeg DJH. Changes in working life expectancy with disability in the Netherlands, 1992-2016. Scand J Work Environ Health 2019; 45(1): 73-80.

Date of last update: May 22, 2020