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Gemma McCarthy


Dr. Deirdre O'Shea & Prof. Donald Truxillo

Working Title of Thesis:

Investigating Work Ability Interventions to Extend Working Lives


Work ability is defined as one's ability to continue working given the demands of one's job and is associated with outcomes such as future disability status, burnout, staff turnover, and importantly, retirement. This research aims to identify ways to increase people's 'work ability" to extend their working lives and thus inform workplace policies and practices.

The number of people employed in the E.U. will peak by 2022 and then decline over the next forty years. This decrease is linked to the ageing of Western workforces and is particularly acute in certain European Countries. In Ireland, the ratio of the number of retirees to the number of workers will double over the next 30 years, stressing retirement systems. European and Irish policies include increasing participation in the labour force and minimising barriers to participation for older workers. Thus, it is important to understand how to keep employees actively contributing to the workforce as they grow older.

Although work ability research dates back to the 1980s, little research has evaluated the stability of this construct over shorter time periods. Thus, my research will investigate the extent to which work ability fluctuates in the short-term. Based on these findings, I will develop and test a targeted intervention to increase work ability. The results of this research have the potential to be of practical use to workplaces by extending the time people remain in employment.