Subjective experiences of stress, workload, and bodily discomfort as a function of age and type of computer work
Consumer Health Information
Public Health Informatics
An increasingly older workforce and a growing emphasis on jobs involving interaction with computers have resulted in a need to more carefully examine the relationship between ageing and computer-based work. In this study, a sample of 394 subjects ranging in age from 20-75 years performed a computer task across a 3-day period. Three different types of computer-based jobs (data entry, information retrieval, and accounts balancing) performed at three large US companies were simulated. Age differences in the subjective experience of stress, workload, and bodily discomfort were evaluated. The results indicated that age effects for these measures varied according to task. The older subjects perceived greater workload for the more mentally challenging problem-solving oriented accounts balancing task (which involved a graphical user interface) than the younger participants, even with increased exposure to the task. However, the older subjects generally experienced less stress than the younger subjects on an information retrieval task that involved a more socially interactive telephone component. A positive relationship between the frustration component of workload and the measure of stress was also found, suggesting an important link between the constructs of stress and workload. Overall, the outcomes of this study provide important insights into design interventions intended to accommodate older as well as younger persons in the workforce.