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1.  Sick leave among home-care personnel: a longitudinal study of risk factors 
Sick leave due to neck, shoulder and back disorders (NSBD) is higher among health-care workers, especially nursing aides/assistant nurses, compared with employees in other occupations. More information is needed about predictors of sick leave among health care workers. The aim of the study was to assess whether self-reported factors related to health, work and leisure time could predict: 1) future certified sick leave due to any cause, in nursing aides/assistant nurses (Study group I) and 2) future self-reported sick leave due to NSBD in nursing aides/assistant nurses (Study group II).
Study group I, comprised 443 female nursing aides/assistant nurses, not on sick leave at baseline when a questionnaire was completed. Data on certified sick leave were collected after 18 months. Study group II comprised 274 of the women, who at baseline reported no sick leave during the preceding year due to NSBD and who participated at the 18 month follow-up. Data on sick leave due to NSBD were collected from the questionnaire at 18 months. The associations between future sick leave and factors related to health, work and leisure time were tested by logistic regression analyses.
Health-related factors such as previous low back disorders (OR: 1.89; 95% CI 1.20–2.97) and previous sick leave (OR 6.40; 95%CI 3.97–10.31), were associated with a higher risk of future sick leave due to any cause. Factors related to health, work and leisure time, i.e. previous low back disorders (OR: 4.45; 95% CI 1.27–15.77) previous sick leave, not due to NSBD (OR 3.30; 95%CI 1.33–8.17), high strain work (OR 2.34; 95%CI 1.05–5.23) and high perceived physical exertion in domestic work (OR 2.56; 95%CI 1.12–5.86) were associated with a higher risk of future sick leave due to NSBD. In the final analyses, previous low back disorders and previous sick leave remained significant in both study groups.
The results suggest a focus on previous low back disorders and previous sick leave for the design of early prevention programmes aiming at reducing future sick leave due to any cause, as well as due to NSBD, among nursing aides/assistant nurses. A multifactorial approach may be of importance in the early prevention of sick leave due to NSBD.
PMCID: PMC539270  PMID: 15533255
2.  A prediction rule for shoulder pain related sick leave: a prospective cohort study 
Shoulder pain is common in primary care, and has an unfavourable outcome in many patients. Information about predictors of shoulder pain related sick leave in workers is scarce and inconsistent. The objective was to develop a clinical prediction rule for calculating the risk of shoulder pain related sick leave for individual workers, during the 6 months following first consultation in general practice.
A prospective cohort study with 6 months follow-up was conducted among 350 workers with a new episode of shoulder pain. Potential predictors included the results of a physical examination, sociodemographic variables, disease characteristics (duration of symptoms, sick leave in the 2 months prior to consultation, pain intensity, disability, comorbidity), physical activity, physical work load, psychological factors, and the psychosocial work environment. The main outcome measure was sick leave during 6 months following first consultation in general practice.
Response rate to the follow-up questionnaire at 6 months was 85%. During the 6 months after first consultation 30% (89/298) of the workers reported sick leave. 16% (47) reported 10 days sick leave or more. Sick leave during this period was predicted in a multivariable model by a longer duration of sick leave prior to consultation, more shoulder pain, a perceived cause of strain or overuse during regular activities, and co-existing psychological complaints. The discriminative ability of the prediction model was satisfactory with an area under the curve of 0.70 (95% CI 0.64–0.76).
Although 30% of all workers with shoulder pain reported sick leave during follow-up, the duration of sick leave was limited to a few days in most workers. We developed a prediction rule and a score chart that can be used by general practitioners and occupational health care providers to calculate the absolute risk of sick leave in individual workers with shoulder pain, which may help to identify workers who need additional attention. The performance and applicability of our model needs to be tested in other working populations with shoulder pain to enable valid and reliable use of the score chart in everyday practice.
PMCID: PMC1762015  PMID: 17150087
3.  Associations between partial sickness benefit and disability pensions: initial findings of a Finnish nationwide register study 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:361.
Timely return to work after longterm sickness absence and the increased use of flexible work arrangements together with partial health-related benefits are tools intended to increase participation in work life. Although partial sickness benefit and partial disability pension are used in many countries, prospective studies on their use are largely lacking. Partial sickness benefit was introduced in Finland in 2007. This register study aimed to investigate the use of health-related benefits by subjects with prolonged sickness absence, initially on either partial or full sick leave.
Representative population data (13 375 men and 16 052 women either on partial or full sick leave in 2007) were drawn from national registers and followed over an average of 18 months. The registers provided information on the study outcomes: diagnoses and days of payment for compensated sick leaves, and the occurrence of disability pension. Survival analysis and multinomial regression were carried out using sociodemographic variables and prior sickness absence as covariates.
Approximately 60% of subjects on partial sick leave and 30% of those on full sick leave had at least one recurrent sick leave over the follow up. A larger proportion of those on partial sick leave (16%) compared to those on full sick leave (1%) had their first recurrent sick leave during the first month of follow up. The adjusted risks of the first recurrent sick leave were 1.8 and 1.7 for men and women, respectively, when subjects on partial sick leave were compared with those on full sick leave. There was no increased risk when those with their first recurrent sick leave in the first month were excluded from the analyses. The risks of a full disability pension were smaller and risks of a partial disability pension approximately two-fold among men and women initially on partial sick leave, compared to subjects on full sick leave.
This is the first follow up study of the newly adopted partial sickness benefit in Finland. The results show that compared to full sick leave, partial sick leave - when not followed by lasting return to work - is more typically followed by partial disability pension and less frequently by full disability pension. It is anticipated that the use of partial benefits in connection with part-time participation in work life will have favourable effects on future disability pension rates in Finland.
PMCID: PMC2912806  PMID: 20573207
4.  Back to work: evaluation of a multidisciplinary rehabilitation program with emphasis on mental symptoms; A two-year follow up 
The aim of this investigation was to analyze temporal changes in anxiety, depression, and stress in patients with musculoskeletal pain for a period of up to 2 years after a multidisciplinary rehabilitation program, in relation to sick-listing (registered with The Swedish Social Insurance Agency [Forsakringskassan] for sickness benefit).
Ten persons with full-time sick leave (absence from work for medical reasons) (group 1) and 49 with part-time or no sick leave (group 2) at the end of the 2-year study period participated. It was shown in a previous study that group 1 had higher pain rating and higher subjective physical disability than group 2, with little or no improvement during and after rehabilitation. In the present study, all participants were evaluated with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale and a self-rated stress test.
Participants with full-time sick leave during the study period (group 1) showed improved stress levels but no change in anxiety and depression levels. Anxiety, depression, and stress changed more favorably in participants with part-time or no sick leave than in those with full-time sick leave.
The results of this study indicate that investigation and appropriate treatment of psychological symptoms, including anxiety and depression, are important in multidisciplinary rehabilitation of patients with musculoskeletal disorders.
PMCID: PMC3396070  PMID: 22807632
anxiety; depression; musculoskeletal; rehabilitation; sick leave; stress
5.  Self-reported treatment, workplace-oriented rehabilitation, change of occupation and subsequent sickness absence and disability pension among employees long-term sick-listed for psychiatric disorders: a prospective cohort study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(6):e001704.
To examine whether self-reported treatments, workplace-oriented rehabilitation and change of occupation were associated with subsequent sickness absence and disability pension among long-term sick-listed for psychiatric disorders.
A prospective cohort study.
Setting and participants
5200 employees (80% from the Swedish municipalities and county councils and 20% manual workers from the Swedish industry) were randomly selected who in 1999 in the register of AFA Insurance had a new spell of long-term sickness absence due to a psychiatric disorder. Of these, 99 were excluded (duplicates and deaths, persons living abroad, with protected personal information), and 5101 received a questionnaire in 2001. 3053 individuals responded (60%). After the exclusion of employees with no sick leave in 1999 according to the Swedish social insurance agency, aged 62 years and older, with disability pension 1999–2001, no self-reported treatment, and with missing information on the covariates, our final study group was 2324 individuals. Logistic regression analyses were performed.
Outcome measures
Sickness absence (>90 days) and disability pension (>0 day).
45% had sickness absence and 18% a new disability pension in 2002. Drug treatment and physiotherapy, respectively, were associated with increased odds of sickness absence (OR 1.56, 95% CI 1.28 to 1.90; OR 1.43, 95% CI 1.21 to 1.69), and disability pension (OR 1.79, 95% CI 1.34 to 2.41; OR 1.75, 95% CI 1.40 to 2.18). Workplace-oriented rehabilitation and change of occupation, respectively, reduced the odds of sickness absence (OR 0.70, 95% CI 0.59 to 0.83; OR 0.35, 95% CI 0.27 to 0.45).
We found a pattern of poorer outcome of drug treatment and physiotherapy compared with other treatments (psychotherapy, workplace-oriented rehabilitation and complementary or alternative medicine) in terms of increased odds of sickness absence and disability pension. Workplace-oriented rehabilitation and/or change of occupation were associated with reduced odds of sick leave. Studies with a randomised controlled trial design are needed to examine the effect on sick leave of a workplace-oriented intervention.
PMCID: PMC3533007  PMID: 23117569
Rehabilitation Medicine; Public Health
6.  A systematic review of bio-psychosocial risk factors for an unfavourable outcome after lumbar disc surgery 
European Spine Journal  2005;15(5):527-536.
The objective of this systematic review is to summarize scientific evidence concerning the predictive value of bio-psychosocial risk factors with regard to the outcome after lumbar disc surgery. Medical and psychological databases were used to locate potentially relevant articles, which resulted in the selection of 11 studies. Each of these studies has a prospective design that examined the predictive value of preoperative variables for the outcome of lumbar disc surgery. Results indicated that socio-demographic, clinical, work-related as well as psychological factors predict lumbar disc surgery outcome. Findings showed relatively consistently that a lower level of education, a higher level of preoperative pain, less work satisfaction, a longer duration of sick leave, higher levels of psychological complaints and more passive avoidance coping function as predictors of an unfavourable outcome in terms of pain, disability, work capacity, or a combination of these outcome measures. The results of this review provide preliminary opportunities to select patients at risk for an unfavourable outcome. However, further systematic and methodologically high quality research is required, particularly for those predictors that can be positively influenced by multidisciplinary interventions.
PMCID: PMC3489340  PMID: 15915334
Lumbar disc surgery; Predictor; Prospective; Bio-psychosocial; Review
7.  Sick-leave track record and other potential predictors of a disability pension. A population based study of 8,218 men and women followed for 16 years 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:104.
A number of previous studies have investigated various predictors for being granted a disability pension. The aim of this study was to test the efficacy of sick-leave track record as a predictor of being granted a disability pension in a large dataset based on subjects sampled from the general population and followed for a long time.
Data from five ongoing population-based Swedish studies was used, supplemented with data on all compensated sick leave periods, disability pensions granted, and vital status, obtained from official registers. The data set included 8,218 men and women followed for 16 years, generated 109,369 person years of observation and 97,160 sickness spells. Various measures of days of sick leave during follow up were used as independent variables and disability pension grant was used as outcome.
There was a strong relationship between individual sickness spell duration and annual cumulative days of sick leave on the one hand and being granted a disability pension on the other, among both men and women, after adjustment for the effects of marital status, education, household size, smoking habits, geographical area and calendar time period, a proxy for position in the business cycle. The interval between sickness spells showed a corresponding inverse relationship. Of all the variables studied, the number of days of sick leave per year was the most powerful predictor of a disability pension. For both men and women 245 annual sick leave days were needed to reach a 50% probability of transition to disability. The independent variables, taken together, explained 96% of the variation in disability pension grantings.
The sick-leave track record was the most important predictor of the probability of being granted a disability pension in this study, even when the influences of other variables affecting the outcome were taken into account.
PMCID: PMC2674437  PMID: 19368715
8.  Using a psychosocial subgroup assignment to predict sickness absence in a working population with neck and back pain 
The overall objective was to evaluate the predictive validity of a subgroup classification based on the Swedish version of the MPI, the MPI-S, among gainfully employed workers with neck pain (NP) and/or low back pain (LBP) during a follow-up period of 18 and 36 months.
This is a prospective cohort study that is part of a larger longitudinal multi-centre study entitled Work and Health in the Process and Engineering Industries (AHA). The attempt was to classify individuals at risk for developing chronic disabling NP and LBP. This is the first study using the MPI-questionnaire in a working population with NP and LBP.
Dysfunctional individuals (DYS) demonstrated more statistically significant sickness absence compared to adaptive copers (AC) after 36 months. DYS also had a threefold increase in the risk ratio of long-term sickness absence at 18 months. Interpersonally distressed (ID) subgroup showed overall more sickness absence compared to the AC subgroup at the 36-month follow-up and had a twofold increase in the risk ratio of long-term sickness absence at 18 months. There was a significant difference in bodily pain, mental and physical health for ID and DYS subgroups compared to the AC group at both follow-ups.
The present study shows that this multidimensional approach to the classification of individuals based on psychological and psychosocial characteristics can distinguish different groups in gainfully employed working population with NP/LBP. The results in this study confirm the predictive validity of the MPI-S subgroup classification system.
PMCID: PMC3097013  PMID: 21521502
9.  The panorama of future sick-leave diagnoses among young adults initially long-term sickness absent due to neck, shoulder, or back diagnoses. An 11-year prospective cohort study 
Little is known about future sick-leave diagnoses among individuals on long-term sickness absence. The aim of this study was to describe the panorama of sick-leave diagnoses over time among young adults initially sick-listed for ≥ 28 days due to back, neck, or shoulder diagnoses
An 11-year prospective population-based cohort study including all 213 individuals in a Swedish municipality who, in 1985, were aged 25–34 years and had a new sick-leave spell ≥ 28 days due to neck, shoulder, or back diagnoses.
Over the 11-year period, the young adults in this cohort had 176,825 sick-leave days in 7,878 sick-leave periods (in 4,610 sick-leave spells) due to disorders in 17 of the 18 ICD-8 diagnostic categories (International Classification of Diseases, Revision 8). Musculoskeletal or mental diagnoses accounted for most of the sick-leave days, whereas most of the sick-leave periods were due to musculoskeletal, respiratory, or infectious disorders, or to unclassified symptoms. Most cohort members had had four to eight different sick-leave diagnoses over the 11 years, although some had had up to 11 diagnoses. Only two individuals (1%) had been sickness absent solely due to musculoskeletal diagnoses.
Although the young adults initially were sick listed with back, neck, or shoulder diagnoses, their sickness absence during the follow up were due to a wide variety of other medical diagnoses. It might be that the ill-health content of sickness absence due to back pain is greater than usually assumed. More research on prognoses of sick-leave diagnoses among long-term sick listed is warranted.
PMCID: PMC2719585
10.  Diagnosis‐specific sick leave as a risk marker for disability pension in a Swedish population 
To investigate diagnosis‐specific sick leave as a risk marker for subsequent disability pension.
A prospective population based cohort study. Exposure to a new medically certified sick leave episode of more than seven days by diagnosis during 1985 was examined in relation to incident cause‐specific disability pension through 1996.
The total non‐retired population of one Swedish county aged 16 to 49 years, alive and not in receipt of a disability pension at the end of 1985 (176 629 persons; 51% men).
Main results
To eliminate confounding by sick leaves that translate into a disability pension, the follow up period for disability pension was started five years after the assessment of sick leave. After adjustment for demographic characteristics, the risk of disability pension from mental disorders was 14.1 times higher (95% confidence interval (CI), 12.1 to 16.4) for those with sick leave for mental disorders than for those with no sick leave. The corresponding hazard ratio for sick leave and disability pension within diagnostic category was 5.7 (95% CI, 5.3 to 6.2) for musculoskeletal diseases and 13.0 (7.7 to 21.8) for gastrointestinal diseases. Irrespective of diagnoses, the hazard ratio for sick leave and disability pension was 3.0 (2.9 to 3.1).
Sick leave may provide an important risk marker for identifying groups at high risk of a disability pension, especially for psychiatric diagnoses.
PMCID: PMC2652975  PMID: 17873230
disability; pensions; ill health retirement; sickness absence; mental health
11.  Sick leave patterns as predictors of disability pension or long-term sick leave: a 6.75-year follow-up study in municipal eldercare workers 
BMJ Open  2014;4(2):e003941.
The aim was to study whether a workplace-registered frequent short-term sick leave spell pattern was an early indicator of future disability pension or future long-term sick leave among municipal eldercare workers.
The municipal healthcare sector in the city of Aarhus, which is the second largest city in Denmark.
All elder care employees who worked the entire year of 2004 in the municipality of Aarhus, Denmark (N=2774). The employees’ sick leave days during 2004 were categorised into: 0–2 and 3–17 short (1–7 days) spells, 2–13 mixed short and long (8+ days) spells and long spells only. Student workers (n=180), employees who were absent due to maternal/paternal leave (n=536) and employees who did not work the entire year of 2004 (n=1218) were not included.
Primary outcome
Disability pension and long-term sick leave (≥8 weeks) were subsequently identified in a National register. The cumulative incidence proportion as a function of follow-up weeks was estimated using the Kaplan-Meier curve. The relative cumulative incidence (RR) of experiencing events within 352 weeks was analysed in a generalised linear regression model using the pseudo values method adjusted for age, occupation, unfavourable work factors and sick leave length.
A frequent short-term and a mixed sick leave pattern showed RRs of being granted a disability pension of 2.08 (95% CI 1.00 to 4.35) and 2.61 (95% CI 1.33 to 5.12) compared with 0–2 short spells. The risk of long-term sick leave was significantly increased for all sick leave patterns compared with 0–2 short spells. Adding sick leave length to the models attenuated all RRs and they became non-significant.
Sick leave length was a better indicator of future workability than spell frequency. Preventive actions should target employees engaged in homecare. The more sick leave days the greater the preventive potential seems, irrespective of spell frequency.
PMCID: PMC3918999  PMID: 24508850
12.  A screening questionnaire to predict no return to work within 3 months for low back pain claimants 
European Spine Journal  2008;17(3):380-385.
The objective of the present study was to develop a short prediction questionnaire for estimating the risk of no return to work (RTW) within 3 months of sick leave to facilitate triage and management of a patient population of subacute low-back pain (LBP) sufferers. We conducted a prospective study with a 3-month follow-up on 186 patients with LBP introducing a claim for sickness benefits to the largest sickness fund in Belgium. Patients completed a screening questionnaire within 2 weeks after claim submission. All patients were invited for clinical assessment, at 6–8 weeks of sick leave, by the medical adviser. Patients’ work status was recorded by the sickness fund. About 20% of the patients did not resume work at 3 months’ sick leave. They were more likely to experience pain below the knee, to have an own previous prediction of a 100% no RTW and to have a severe interference of pain on daily activities. The screening tool based on these three items correctly classified 73.7% of the non-resumers and 78.4% of the resumers at a cut-off score of 0.22. The findings of this study provide evidence of the utility of a short screening questionnaire for future use in intervention studies in a social security setting.
PMCID: PMC2270393  PMID: 18172698
Low back pain; Return to work; Screening; Predictors; Outcomes
13.  Partial sick leave associated with disability pension: propensity score approach in a register-based cohort study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(6):e001752.
To support sustainability of the welfare society enhanced work retention is needed among those with impaired work ability. Partial health-related benefits have been introduced for this target. The aim was to estimate the effects of partial sick leave on transition to disability pension applying propensity score methods.
Register-based cohort study.
Sample from the national sickness insurance registers representative of the Finnish working population (full-time workers) with long-term sickness absence due to musculoskeletal disorders, mental disorders, traumas or tumours.
All recipients of partial or full sickness benefit whose sick leave period had ended between 1 May and 31 December 2007 were included. The sample was limited to four most prevalent diagnostic groups—mental and musculoskeletal disorders, traumas and tumours. The total sample consisted of 1047 subjects on partial sick leave (treatment group) and 28 380 subjects on full sick leave (control group). A subsample (1017 and 25 249 subjects, respectively) was formed to improve the comparability of the two groups.
Outcome measures
A three-category measure and a binary measure for the occurrence of disability pension on the last day of 2008 were computed.
Partial sickness benefit reduced the risk (change in absolute risk) of full disability pension by 6% and increased the risk of partial disability pension by 8% compared with full sick leave. The effects did not differ markedly for the two main diagnostic groups of musculoskeletal and mental disorders. In men, the use of full disability pension was reduced by 10% with a 5% increase in the use of partial disability pension, while in women the effects were close to those of the total sample.
Our findings suggest that combining work with partial sick leave may provide one means to increase work retention at population level. The use of partial sick leave could be encouraged among men.
PMCID: PMC3533026  PMID: 23144260
Epidemiology; Public Health; Population Registers
14.  Expectations and illness perceptions as predictors of benefit recipiency among workers with common mental disorders: secondary analysis from a randomised controlled trial 
BMJ Open  2014;4(3):e004321.
Common mental disorders (CMDs) are among the leading causes of sick leave, and more knowledge on factors related to work participation and return-to-work (RTW) in CMDs is needed. The aim of this study was to investigate RTW-expectations and illness perceptions as predictors of benefit recipiency in CMDs.
Study participants were enrolled in a randomised controlled trial and reported CMDs as a main obstacle for work participation. Three prespecified subgroups were included: people at risk of going on sick leave, people on sick leave (>3 weeks) or people on long-term benefits. Baseline questionnaire data and registry data at baseline and 6 months were used to investigate predictors of benefit recipiency at 6-month follow-up. Benefit recipiency included sickness benefits, disability pension, work assessment allowance and unemployment benefits.
In this study, uncertain and negative RTW-expectations were strong predictors of benefit recipiency at 6 months follow-up. Illness perceptions predicted benefit recipiency in the unadjusted model, but not in the fully adjusted model. In the subgroup on sick leave, uncertain and negative RTW-expectations predicted benefit recipiency, while in the subgroup of people at risk of going on sick leave, negative RTW-expectations predicted benefit recipiency. In the subgroup on long-term benefits, only female gender predicted benefit recipiency.
For people with CMDs, uncertain and negative RTW-expectations predict later benefit recipiency, and expectations seem particularly important for those at risk of or on sick leave. For those at risk of sick leave, benefit recipiency at follow-up denoted a transition onto sick leave or long-term benefit, while those on sick leave had remained so or were receiving long-term benefits. Addressing RTW-expectations in occupational healthcare services or vocational rehabilitation might be beneficial in early stages or even prior to a sick leave episode.
Trial registration, NCT01146730.
PMCID: PMC3948454  PMID: 24589824
15.  Undetected Common Mental Disorders in Long-Term Sickness Absence 
Background. Undetected Common Mental Disorders (CMDs) amongst people on sick leave complicate rehabilitation and return to work because appropriate treatments are not initiated. Aims. The aim of this study is to estimate (1) the frequencies of CMD, (2) the predictors of undetected CMD, and (3) the rate of return to work among sick listed individuals without a psychiatric disorder, who are registered on long-term sickness absence (LSA). Methods. A total of 2,414 incident individuals on LSA with a response rate of 46.4%, were identified for a two-phase study. The subsample of this study involved individuals registered on LSA who were sick-listed without a psychiatric sick leave diagnosis. In this respect, Phase 1 included 831 individuals, who were screened for mental disorders. In Phase 2, following the screening of Phase 1, 227 individuals were thoroughly examined by a psychiatrist applying Present State Examination. The analyses of the study were carried out based on the 227 individuals from Phase 2 and, subsequently, weighted to be representative of the 831 individuals in Phase 1. Results. The frequencies of undetected mental disorders among all sick-listed individuals were for any psychiatric diagnosis 21%, depression 14%, anxiety 4%, and somatoform disorder 6%. Conclusions. Undetected CMD may delay the initiation of appropriate treatment and complicate the rehabilitation and return to work.
PMCID: PMC3361179  PMID: 22666588
16.  The association between sex segregation, working conditions, and sickness absence among employed women 
Methods: The study group consisted of 1075 women employed as nurses, assistant nurses, medical secretaries, or metal workers who answered a questionnaire comprising 218 questions on women's health and living conditions. Sickness absence was collected from employers' and social insurance registers.
Results: Women working in the male dominated occupation had in general higher sickness absence compared to those working in female dominated occupations. However, metal workers at female dominated work sites had 2.98 (95% CI 2.17 to 3.79) sick-leave spells per woman and year compared to 1.70 (95% CI 1.29 to 2.10) among those working with almost only men. In spite of a better physical work environment, female metal workers at a female dominated work site had a higher sickness absence than other women, which probably could be explained by the worse psychosocial work environment. Working with more women also had a positive association to increased frequency of sick-leave spells in a multivariate analysis including several known indicators of increased sick-leave.
Conclusions: There was an association between sickness absence and sex segregation, in different directions at the occupational and work site level. The mechanism behind this needs to be more closely understood regarding selection in and out of an occupation and a certain work site.
PMCID: PMC1740719  PMID: 14739391
17.  Factors associated with work disability in employed cancer survivors at 24-month sick leave 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:236.
Identification of factors associated with work disability in cancer survivors on long term sick leave may support these survivors in choosing effective measures to facilitate vocational rehabilitation and return to work. Therefore, this study aims to disclose factors associated with work disability in cancer survivors at 24 months of sick leave.
A cross sectional study was conducted. The study population consisted of employed sick-listed cancer survivors, aged between 18 and 64 years. They received a questionnaire at 24-month sick leave, the maximum period of sick leave allowed by Dutch social security legislation. Data were linked with the outcome of work disability assessment, as performed by the Dutch social security agency. A hierarchical multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed to identify factors associated with work disability.
Data of 351 valid cases were analysed. The multivariate analysis showed that, for cancer survivors at 24-month sick leave, Dutch nationality, higher education, receiving hormone therapy, metastatic disease, physical limitations and low self-reported work ability were associated with an increased risk for work disability.
This study identified factors associated with work disability of employed cancer survivors at 24 months of sick leave. The results of the current study may serve as a starting point to investigate the course of work disability beyond the maximum period of 24 months of sick leave. In order to enhance work participation of cancer survivors beyond this term, prospective data on work disability in the Netherlands are required.
PMCID: PMC3976500  PMID: 24693855
Cancer; Survivors; Work disability; Return to work; Limitations; Sick leave
18.  Sickness absence due to otoaudiological diagnoses; a descriptive nationwide study 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:635.
Hearing difficulties constitute a large public health problem. Knowledge about their consequences in terms of sickness absence due to otoaudiological diagnoses is very scarce. The aim of this study was to gain such knowledge. Both individuals with sick leave due to otoaudiological diagnoses and sick-leave spells due to these diagnoses were examined, in a nationwide setting.
Through Swedish nationwide registers we identified all 4768 individuals, aged 16–64 years and living in Sweden who were sickness absent due to otoaudiological diagnoses (ICD10; H60-H95) in 2005. We described the demographic characteristics of these individuals, as well as aspects regarding prevalence and duration of such sick-leave spells, in general and in four specific diagnosis groups; otological, hearing, vertigo, and tinnitus.
Sick leave due to otoaudiological diagnoses was more common among women in all diagnosis groups except with tinnitus. Individuals with a hearing or tinnitus sick-leave diagnosis had a higher educational level and were hospitalized fewer days compared to those sickness absent due to vertigo or otological diagnoses. Particularly, sick-leave spells due to hearing or tinnitus diagnoses tended to be long, in many cases lasting the entire year. The majority of the individuals only had one sick-leave spell in 2005.
Although the actual number of individuals with a sick-leave spell due to specific otoaudiological diagnosis might not be considered high, the high prevalence of long sick-leave spells due to particularly hearing and tinnitus diagnoses indicates the importance of preventive and rehabilitative actions.
PMCID: PMC3733665  PMID: 23835212
Otoaudiological diagnoses; Hearing difficulties; Sick leave
19.  Sick but yet at work. An empirical study of sickness presenteeism 
STUDY OBJECTIVE—The study is an empirical investigation of sickness presenteeism in relation to occupation, irreplaceability, ill health, sickness absenteeism, personal income, and slimmed down organisation.
DESIGN—Cross sectional design.
SETTING—Swedish workforce.
PARTICIPANTS—The study group comprised a stratified subsample of 3801 employed persons working at the time of the survey, interviewed by telephone in conjunction with Statistics Sweden's labour market surveys of August and September 1997. The response rate was 87 per cent.
MAIN RESULTS—A third of the persons in the total material reported that they had gone to work two or more times during the preceding year despite the feeling that, in the light of their perceived state of health, they should have taken sick leave. The highest presenteeism is largely to be found in the care and welfare and education sectors (nursing and midwifery professionals, registered nurses, nursing home aides, compulsory school teachers and preschool/primary educationalists. All these groups work in sectors that have faced personnel cutbacks during the 1990s). The risk ratio (odds ratio (OR)) for sickness presenteeism in the group that has to re-do work remaining after a period of absence through sickness is 2.29 (95% CI 1.79, 2.93). High proportions of persons with upper back/neck pain and fatigue/slightly depressed are among those with high presenteeism (p< 0.001). Occupational groups with high sickness presenteeism show high sickness absenteeism (ρ = 0.38; p<.01) and the hypothesis on level of pay and sickness presenteeism is also supported (ρ = −0.22; p<0.01).
CONCLUSIONS—Members of occupational groups whose everyday tasks are to provide care or welfare services, or teach or instruct, have a substantially increased risk of being at work when sick. The link between difficulties in replacement or finding a stand in and sickness presenteeism is confirmed by study results. The categories with high sickness presenteeism experience symptoms more often than those without presenteeism. The most common combination is low monthly income, high sickness absenteeism and high sickness presenteeism.

Keywords: sickness presenteeism; sickness absenteeism; ill health
PMCID: PMC1731716  PMID: 10846192
20.  Validation of the German version of the Nurse-Work Instability Scale: baseline survey findings of a prospective study of a cohort of geriatric care workers 
A prospective study of a cohort of nursing staff from nursing homes was undertaken to validate the Nurse-Work Instability Scale (Nurse-WIS). Baseline investigation data was used to test reliability, construct validity and criterion validity.
A survey of nursing staff from nursing homes was conducted using a questionnaire containing the Nurse-WIS along with other survey instruments (including SF-12, WAI, SPE). The self-reported number of days’ sick leave taken and if a pension for reduced work capacity was drawn were recorded. The reliability of the scale was checked by item difficulty (P), item discrimination (rjt) and by internal consistency according to Cronbach’s coefficient. The hypotheses for checking construct validity were tested on the basis of correlations. Pearson’s chi-square was used to test concurrent criterion validity; discriminant validity was tested by means of binary logistic regression.
396 persons answered the questionnaire (21.3% response rate). More than 80% were female and mostly work full-time in a rotating shift pattern. Following the test for item discrimination, two items were removed from the Nurse-WIS test. According to Cronbach’s (0.927) the scale provides a high degree of measuring accuracy. All hypotheses and assumptions used to test validity were confirmed: As the Nurse-WIS risk increases, health-related quality of life, work ability and job satisfaction decline. Depressive symptoms and a poor subjective prognosis of earning capacity are also more frequent. Musculoskeletal disorders and impairments of psychological well-being are more frequent. Age also influences the Nurse-WIS result. While 12.0% of those below the age of 35 had an increased risk, the figure for those aged over 55 was 50%.
This study is the first validation study of the Nurse-WIS to date. The Nurse-WIS shows good reliability, good validity and a good level of measuring accuracy. It appears to be suitable for recording prevention and rehabilitation needs among health care workers. If, in the follow-up, the Nurse-WIS likewise proves to be a reliable screening instrument with good predictive validity, it could ensure that suitable action is taken at an early stage, thereby helping to counteract early retirement and the anticipated shortage of health care workers.
PMCID: PMC3892029  PMID: 24330532
Nurse-work instability scale; Nurses; Musculoskeletal disorders
21.  Sickness Absence following Coronary Revascularisation. A National Study of Women and Men of Working Age in Sweden 1994–2006 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40952.
Evidence based and gender specific knowledge about sickness absence following coronary revascularisation is lacking. The objective was to investigate sickness absence after a first coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) among women and men in a national Swedish study.
Materials and Methods
All patients 30–63 years of age, who underwent a first CABG (n = 22,985, 16% women) or PCI (40,891, 22% women) in Sweden between 1994 and 2006 were included. Information on sickness absence, co-morbidity, and other patient characteristics was obtained from national registers. Long-term sickness absence (LTSA) was defined as >180 and >90 sick-leave days in the first sick-leave spell following CABG and PCI, respectively. Prevalence ratio (PR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) of LTSA were calculated.
LTSA followed the interventions in 41% and 36% for CABG and PCI patients, respectively. Women had more often LTSA compared with men, (CABG PR = 1.23: 95% CI 1.19–1.28 and PCI PR = 1.19; 95% CI 1.16–1.23). A history of sickness absence the year before the intervention increased the risk for LTSA after the intervention in both genders. Among women, older age, or being self employed or unemployed was associated with a lower risk for LTSA. Among men previous cardiovascular disease, diabetes and low socio-economic position increased the risk. During the observation period, there was no change in sickness absence rates among PCI patients but an increase among CABG patients adjusting for patient characteristics.
This national study covering a 13-year period shows that long-term sickness absence following coronary revascularisation is common in Sweden, especially among women, and is associated with socio-economic position, co-morbidity, and sickness absence during the year before the intervention. Gender specific scientific knowledge about use and effects of sickness absence following coronary revascularisation is warranted for the patients, the treating physicians, the healthcare sector, and the society.
PMCID: PMC3404085  PMID: 22848415
22.  Short-term sick leave and future risk of sickness absence and unemployment - the impact of health status 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:861.
In previous studies the authors have found sick leave to be a predictor of future sick leave, unemployment and disability pension. Although sick leave reflects underlying health problems, some studies have suggested that sick leave may have consequences beyond the consequences of the underlying illness. However, few studies have aimed at studying consequences of sick leave while adjusting for ill health. This study aims to explore whether short-term sick leave increases the risk of future long-term sick leave, disability pension, and unemployment. Furthermore, we aim to control for the potentially confounding effects of physical and mental health status.
Data were gathered from the Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC), restricted to 11,156 employed individuals (48.6% men) aged 18–59, without long-term sick leave, disability pension or in-patient care the year before inclusion (2002). These were followed-up with regard to unemployment, long-term sick leave, and disability pension in 2006 and 2007.
Odds ratios (OR) with corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated by logistic regression, controlling for six different measures of health status (limiting long-standing illness, self-rated health, mental health, somatic disease, musculoskeletal pain and in-patient care) and socio-demographic factors.
Results from the unadjusted analyses indicated increased risks of long-term sick leave (OR 2.00; CI 1.62-2.46) and short-term unemployment (OR 1.76; CI 1.35-2.29) for individuals exposed to more than one short-term sick-leave spell. There were no increased odds of long-term unemployment (OR 0.54; CI 0.28-1.04) or disability pension (OR 0.72; CI 0.42-1.24). After adjusting for the different measures of health status the odds ratio for short-term unemployment was not statistically significant (OR 1.29; CI 0.97-1.74). The odds ratios for the other outcomes slightly increased after adjustment for the used measures of health status.
The results support the assumption that short-term sick leave may have consequences for future sick leave beyond the effect of ill health. The results point to the importance of paying attention to short-term sick leave in order to prevent subsequent sickness absence.
PMCID: PMC3508966  PMID: 23050983
Short-term sick leave; Health status; Future sickness absence; Unemployment; Population-based study
23.  Sickness absence and disability pension due to otoaudiological diagnoses: risk of premature death – a nationwide prospective cohort study 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:137.
It is estimated that hearing difficulties will be one of the top ten leading burdens of disease by 2030. Knowledge of mortality among individuals on sick leave or disability pension due to hearing diagnoses is virtually non-existent. We aimed prospectively to examine the associations of diagnosis-specific sick leave and disability pension due to different otoaudiological diagnoses with risks of all-cause and cause-specific mortality.
A cohort, based on Swedish registry data, including all 5 248 672 individuals living in Sweden in 2005, aged 20–64, and not on old-age pension, was followed through 2010. Otoaudiological diagnoses were placed in the following categories: otological, hearing, vertigo, and tinnitus. Hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using Cox proportional hazard models; individuals on sick leave or disability pension due to different otoaudiological diagnoses during 2005 were compared with those not on sick leave or disability pension.
In multivariable models, individuals with sickness absence due to otoaudiological diagnoses showed a lower risk of mortality, while individuals on disability pension due to otoaudiological diagnoses showed a 14% (95% CI 1-29%) increased risk of mortality, compared with individuals not on sick leave or disability pension. The risk increase among individuals on disability pension was largely attributable to otological (HR 1.56; 95% CI = 1.04-2.33) and hearing diagnoses (HR 1.20; 95% CI = 1.00-1.43).
This large nationwide population-based cohort study suggests an increased risk of mortality among individuals on disability pension due to otoaudiological diagnoses.
PMCID: PMC3922186  PMID: 24507477
Hearing diagnoses; Sick-leave; Mortality
24.  Effectiveness of early part-time sick leave in musculoskeletal disorders 
The importance of staying active instead of bed rest has been acknowledged in the management of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). This emphasizes the potential benefits of adjusting work to fit the employee's remaining work ability. Despite part-time sick leave being an official option in many countries, its effectiveness has not been studied yet. We have designed a randomized controlled study to assess the health effects of early part-time sick leave compared to conventional full-day sick leave. Our hypothesis is that if work time is temporarily reduced and work load adjusted at the early stages of disability, employees with MSDs will have less disability days and faster return to regular work duties than employees on a conventional sick leave.
The study population will consist of 600 employees, who seek medical advice from an occupational physician due to musculoskeletal pain. The inclusion requires that they have not been on a sick leave for longer than 14 days prior to the visit. Based on the physician's judgement, the severity of the symptoms must indicate a need for conventional sick leave, but the employee is considered to be able to work part-time without any additional risk. Half of the employees are randomly allocated to part-time sick leave group and their work time is reduced by 40–60%, whereas in the control group work load is totally eliminated with conventional sick leave. The main outcomes are the number of days from the initial visit to return to regular work activities, and the total number of sick leave days during 12 and 24 months of follow-up. The costs and benefits as well as the feasibility of early part-time sick leave will also be evaluated.
This is the first randomised trial to our knowledge on the effectiveness of early part-time sick leave compared to conventional full-time sick leave in the management of MSDs. The data collection continues until 2011, but preliminary results on the feasibility of part-time sick leave will be available already in 2008. The increased knowledge will assist in better decision making process regarding the management of disability related to MSDs.
Trial Registration
International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number Register, register number ISRCTN30911719
PMCID: PMC2267790  PMID: 18294405
25.  Promoting work ability in a structured national rehabilitation program in patients with musculoskeletal disorders: outcomes and predictors in a prospective cohort study 
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a major reason for impaired work productivity and sick leave. In 2009, a national rehabilitation program was introduced in Sweden to promote work ability, and patients with MSDs were offered multimodal rehabilitation. The aim of this study was to analyse the effect of this program on health related quality of life, function, sick leave and work ability.
We conducted a prospective, observational cohort study including 406 patients with MSDs attending multimodal rehabilitation. Changes over time and differences between groups were analysed concerning function, health related quality of life, work ability and sick leave. Regression analyses were used to study the outcome variables health related quality of life (measured with EQ-5D), and sick leave.
Functional ability and health related quality of life improved after rehabilitation. Patients with no sick leave/disability pension the year before rehabilitation, improved health related quality of life more than patients with sick leave/disability pension the year before rehabilitation (p = 0.044). During a period of −/+ four months from rehabilitation start, patients with EQ-5D ≥ 0.5 at rehabilitation start, reduced their net sick leave days with 0.5 days and patients with EQ-5D <0.5 at rehabilitation start, increased net sick leave days with 1.5 days (p = 0.019). Factors negatively associated with sick leave at follow-up were earlier episodes of sick leave/disability pension, problems with exercise tolerance functions and mobility after rehabilitation. Higher age was associated with not being on sick leave at follow-up and reaching an EQ-5D ≥ 0.5 at follow-up. Severe pain after rehabilitation, problems with exercise tolerance functions, born outside of Sweden and full-time sick leave/disability pension the year before rehabilitation were all associated with an EQ-5D level < 0.5 at follow-up.
Patients with MSDs participating in a national work promoting rehabilitation program significantly improved their health related quality of life and functional ability, especially those with no sick leave. This shows that vocational rehabilitation programs in a primary health care setting are effective. The findings of this study can also be valuable for more appropriate patient selection for rehabilitation programs for MSDs.
PMCID: PMC3626929  PMID: 23384339
Sick leave; Musculoskeletal pain; Multimodal rehabilitation; Health related quality of life; Function

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