Study co-author Mo Wang of the University of Maryland and colleagues examined the national Health and Retirement study, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging. They used data from 12,189 participants who were between the ages of 51-61 at the beginning of the study.
The study participants were interviewed every two years over a six-year period beginning in 1992 about their health, finances, employment history and work or retirement life.
The findings showed that people whose post-retirement jobs were related to their previous careers reported better mental health than those who fully retired. However, these mental health improvements were not found among retirees who worked in jobs outside their previous career field.
The authors speculate retirees who take jobs not related to their career field may need to adapt to a different work environment or job conditions, resulting in higher levels of stress.
The findings were published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.