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Factorial Validity of the Work Ability Index among Employees in Germany

Purpose: The Work Ability Index (WAI) is a routinely applied instrument for the assessment of work ability. It is a single score index, based on the implicit assumption of a single factor underlying the construct of work ability. The few studies with a focus on the WAI's factor structure are mainly based on non-representative samples. The objective of this study was to examine the factor structure of the WAI within a representative sample of employees working in Germany, applying analysis procedures that consider the metric of the variables.

Methods: Analyses are based on a nationwide representative sample of employees aged 31–60 years from the "Study on Mental Health at Work" (German: S-MGA). Responses from n = 3968 participants were used in confirmatory factor analyses comparing competing models of the structure underlying the WAI.

Results: The results of the analyses suggest that the intercorrelations between the indicators of the WAI are explained better by a model with two correlated factors than by a simple one-factor structure. A model solely allowing a single loading for each indicator fits the data well and allows for an easy interpretation of the two underlying factors.

Conclusions: There are two correlated factors underlying the WAI: one refers to "subjective work ability and resources", the other one can be considered a "health related factor".

This article is published in the "Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation", Volume 29, Issue 2, pp. 433-442.

First Online: 1 August 2018

Bibliographic information

M. Freyer, M. Formazin, U. Rose:
Factorial Validity of the Work Ability Index among Employees in Germany. 
in: Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, Volume 29, Issue 2 2019. pages 433-442, Project number: F 2250, DOI: 10.1007/s10926-018-9803-9

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Further Information

Work Ability Index (WAI)

A new method of calculation on the basis of two factors

Find out more : Work Ability Index (WAI) …

Research Project

Project numberF 2250 StatusCompleted Project Development of an empirical basis for work and functional health - sample survey among employees

Find out more : Development of an empirical basis for work and functional health - sample survey among employees …

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