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1.  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
2.  Determinants for return to work among sickness certified patients in general practice 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:1077.
Long-term sickness absence is one of the main risk factors for permanent exit out of the labour market. Early identification of the condition is essential to facilitate return to work. The aim of this study was to analyse possible determinants of return to work and their relative impact.
All 943 subjects aged 18 to 63 years, sickness certified at a Primary Health Care Centre in Sweden from 1 January until 31 August 2004, were followed up for three years. Baseline information on sex, age, sick leave diagnosis, employment status, extent of sick leave, and sickness absence during the year before baseline was obtained, as was information on all compensated days of sick leave, disability pension and death during follow-up.
Slightly more than half the subjects were women, mean age was 39 years. Half of the study population returned to work within 14 days after baseline, and after three years only 15 subjects were still on sick leave. In multivariate proportional hazards regression analysis the extent of previous sick leave, age, being on part-time sick leave, and having a psychiatric, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, nervous disease, digestive system, or injury or poisoning diagnosis decreased the return to work rate, while being employed increased it. Marital status, sex, being born in Sweden, citizenship, and annual salary had no influence. In logistic regression analyses across follow-up time these variables altogether explained 88-90% of return to work variation.
Return to work was positively or negatively associated by a number of variables easily accessible in the GP’s office. Track record data in the form of previous sick leave was the most influential variable.
PMCID: PMC3541101  PMID: 23241229
3.  Patients with ankylosing spondylitis have increased sick leave—a registry-based case–control study over 7 yrs 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2009;48(3):289-292.
Objectives. Using prospectively collected registry data to investigate sick leave (sickness benefit and sickness compensation) over a 7-yr period in patients with AS in comparison with population-based controls matched for age, sex and residential area.
Methods. We investigated 122 (21 women and 101 men) outpatients with AS in South Sweden, born 1942 or later, from rheumatology specialist care for their sick leave during a 7-yr period. Mean (s.d.) age was 43 (11) yrs and mean (s.d.) disease duration was 20 (11) yrs. Two controls per case, matched for age, sex and residential area were selected from the Swedish National Population Register. Data concerning sick leave for cases and controls, based on the subjects’ unique 10-digit personal identification number, were retrieved from the national register of the Swedish Social Insurance Agency.
Results. More AS patients than controls were registered for sickness benefit (52 vs 36%, P < 0.01) and sickness compensation (42 vs 11%, P < 0.001). Cases had an increased risk for sick leave compared with controls with a relative risk of 1.8; 95% CI 1.5, 2.1; and cases had more days with sick leave than controls (median number of more days per year 30; 95% CI 2, 72).
Conclusions. Using the Swedish Social Insurance Agency's registers for sick leave, we found that patients with AS in rheumatology specialist care in South Sweden have an increased level of sick leave compared with controls. These population-based registers have a great potential for studies of the effects of different interventions on sick leave.
PMCID: PMC2644046  PMID: 19164425
Ankylosing spondylitis; Sick leave; Work disability; Controlled study; Register
4.  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
5.  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
6.  Length of sick leave – Why not ask the sick-listed? Sick-listed individuals predict their length of sick leave more accurately than professionals 
BMC Public Health  2004;4:46.
The knowledge of factors accurately predicting the long lasting sick leaves is sparse, but information on medical condition is believed to be necessary to identify persons at risk. Based on the current practice, with identifying sick-listed individuals at risk of long-lasting sick leaves, the objectives of this study were to inquire the diagnostic accuracy of length of sick leaves predicted in the Norwegian National Insurance Offices, and to compare their predictions with the self-predictions of the sick-listed.
Based on medical certificates, two National Insurance medical consultants and two National Insurance officers predicted, at day 14, the length of sick leave in 993 consecutive cases of sick leave, resulting from musculoskeletal or mental disorders, in this 1-year follow-up study. Two months later they reassessed 322 cases based on extended medical certificates. Self-predictions were obtained in 152 sick-listed subjects when their sick leave passed 14 days. Diagnostic accuracy of the predictions was analysed by ROC area, sensitivity, specificity, likelihood ratio, and positive predictive value was included in the analyses of predictive validity.
The sick-listed identified sick leave lasting 12 weeks or longer with an ROC area of 80.9% (95% CI 73.7–86.8), while the corresponding estimates for medical consultants and officers had ROC areas of 55.6% (95% CI 45.6–65.6%) and 56.0% (95% CI 46.6–65.4%), respectively. The predictions of sick-listed males were significantly better than those of female subjects, and older subjects predicted somewhat better than younger subjects. Neither formal medical competence, nor additional medical information, noticeably improved the diagnostic accuracy based on medical certificates.
This study demonstrates that the accuracy of a prognosis based on medical documentation in sickness absence forms, is lower than that of one based on direct communication with the sick-listed themselves.
PMCID: PMC529266  PMID: 15476563
7.  Increase in sickness absence with psychiatric diagnosis in Norway: a general population-based epidemiologic study of age, gender and regional distribution 
BMC Medicine  2006;4:19.
The aim of this study was to assess the incidence of sickness absence with psychiatric diagnoses from 1994–2000, and the distribution across gender, age groups, diagnostic groups and regions in a general population.
The population at risk was defined as all individuals aged 16–66 years who were entitled to sickness benefits in 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000 (n = 2,282,761 in 2000). All individuals with a full-time disability pension were excluded. The study included approximately 77% of the Norwegian population aged 16–66 years. For each year, the study base started on 1 January and ended on 31 December. Individuals that were sick-listed for more than 14/16 consecutive days with a psychiatric diagnosis on their medical certificate were selected as cases. Included in this study were data for Norway, the capital city Oslo and five regions in the southeast of the country.
Sickness absence with psychiatric diagnoses increased in all age groups, in women and men, and in all regions. At the national level, the cumulative incidence increased in women from 1.7% in 1994 to 4.6% in 2000, and in men from 0.8% in 1994 to 2.2% in 2000. The highest cumulative incidence was found in middle-aged women and men (30–59 years). Women had a higher incidence than men in all stratification groups. The cumulative incidences in 2000 varied between 4.6% to 5.6% in women in the different regions, and for men the corresponding figures were 2.1% to 3.2%. Throughout the four years studied, women in Oslo had more than twice as high incidence levels of sickness absence with alcohol and drug diagnoses as the country as a whole. There were some differences between regions in sickness absence with specific psychiatric diagnoses, but they were small and most comparisons were non-significant.
Sickness absence with psychiatric diagnoses increased between 1994 and 2000 in Norway. The increase was highest in the middle-aged, and in women. Few regional differences were found. That the increase pervaded all stratification groups supports general explanations of the increase, such as changes in attitudes to psychiatric disorders in both patients and doctors, and increased mental distress probably associated with societal changes at a more structural level.
PMCID: PMC1601961  PMID: 16923198
8.  Work and family: associations with long-term sick-listing in Swedish women – a case-control study 
BMC Public Health  2007;7:287.
The number of Swedish women who are long-term sick-listed is high, and twice as high as for men. Also the periods of sickness absence have on average been longer for women than for men. The objective of this study was to investigate the associations between factors in work- and family life and long-term sick-listing in Swedish women.
This case-control study included 283 women on long-term sick-listing ≥90 days, and 250 female referents, randomly chosen, living in five counties in Sweden. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses with odds ratios were calculated to estimate the associations between long-term sick-listing and factors related to occupational work and family life.
Long-term sick-listing in women is associated with self-reported lack of competence for work tasks (OR 2.42 1.23–11.21 log reg), workplace dissatisfaction (OR 1.89 1.14–6.62 log reg), physical workload above capacity (1.78 1.50–5.94), too high mental strain in work tasks (1.61 1.08–5.01 log reg), number of employers during work life (OR 1.39 1.35–4.03 log reg), earlier part-time work (OR 1.39 1.18–4.03 log reg), and lack of influence on working hours (OR 1.35 1.47–3.86 log reg). A younger age at first child, number of children, and main responsibility for own children was also found to be associated with long-term sick-listing. Almost all of the sick-listed women (93%) wanted to return to working life, and 54% reported they could work immediately if adjustments at work or part-time work were possible.
Factors in work and in family life could be important to consider to prevent women from being long-term sick-listed and promote their opportunities to remain in working life. Measures ought to be taken to improve their mobility in work life and control over decisions and actions regarding theirs lives.
PMCID: PMC2151941  PMID: 17931411
9.  Structured Early Consultation with the Occupational Physician Reduces Sickness Absence Among Office Workers at High Risk for Long-Term Sickness Absence: a Randomized Controlled Trial 
Objective To examine the efficacy of structured early consultation among employees at high risk for future long-term sickness absence, in the prevention and/or reduction of sickness absence. The focus of the experiment was the timing of the intervention, that is, treatment before sickness absence actually occurs. Methods In the current prospective randomized controlled trial (RCT), employees at high risk for long-term sickness absence were selected based on responses to a 34-item screening questionnaire including demographic, workplace, health and psychosocial factors associated with long-term sickness absence (>28 days). A total of 299 subjects at risk for future long-term sickness absence were randomized in an experimental group (n = 147) or in a control group (n = 152). Subjects in the experimental group received a structured early consult with their occupational physician (OP), in some cases followed by targeted intervention. The control group received care as usual. Sickness absence was assessed objectively through record linkage with the company registers on sickness absence over a 1 year follow-up period. Results Modified intention-to-treat analysis revealed substantial and statistically significant differences (p = 0.007) in total sickness absence duration over 1 year follow-up between the experimental (mean 18.98; SD 29.50) and control group (mean 31.13; SD 55.47). Per-protocol analysis additionally showed that the proportion of long-term sickness absence spells (>28 days) over 1 year follow-up was significantly (p = 0.048) lower in the experimental (9.1%) versus control group (18.3%). Conclusions Structured early consultation with the OP among employees at high risk for future long-term sickness absence is successful in reducing total sickness absence.
PMCID: PMC2668565  PMID: 18196446
Epidemiology; Occupational health intervention; Prevention; Sick leave
10.  Lack of Adjustment Latitude at Work as a Trigger of Taking Sick Leave—A Swedish Case-Crossover Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61830.
Research has shown that individuals reporting a low level of adjustment latitude, defined as having few possibilities to temporarily adjust work demands to illness, have a higher risk of sick leave. To what extent lack of adjustment latitude influences the individual when making the decision to take sick leave is unknown. We hypothesize that ill individuals are more likely to take sick leave on days when they experience a lack of adjustment latitude at work than on days with access to adjustment latitude.
A case-crossover design was applied to 546 sick-leave spells, extracted from a cohort of 1 430 employees at six Swedish workplaces, with a 3–12 month follow-up of all new sick-leave spells. Exposure to lack of adjustment latitude on the first sick-leave day was compared with exposure during several types of control periods sampled from the previous two months for the same individual.
Only 35% of the respondents reported variations in access to adjustment latitude, and 19% reported a constant lack of adjustment latitude during the two weeks prior to the sick-leave spell. Among those that did report variation, the risk of sick leave was lower on days with lack of adjustment latitude, than on days with access (Odds Ratio 0.36, 95% Confidence Interval 0.25–0.52).
This is the first study to show the influence of adjustment latitude on the decision to take sick leave. Among those with variations in exposure, lack of adjustment latitude was a deterrent of sick leave, which is contrary to the à priori hypothesis. These results indicate that adjustment latitude may not only capture long-lasting effects of a flexible working environment, but also temporary possibilities to adjust work to being absent. Further studies are needed to disentangle the causal mechanisms of adjustment latitude on sick-leave.
PMCID: PMC3631183  PMID: 23620792
11.  Relative Deprivation and Sickness Absence in Sweden 
Background: A high prevalence of sickness absence in many countries, at a substantial societal cost, underlines the importance to understand its determining mechanisms. This study focuses on the link between relative deprivation and the probability of sickness absence. Methods: 184,000 men and women in Sweden were followed between 1982 and 2001. The sample consists of working individuals between the ages of 19 and 65. The outcome is defined as experiencing more than 14 days of sickness absence during a year. Based on the complete Swedish population, an individual’s degree of relative deprivation is measured through income compared to individuals of the same age, sex, educational level and type. In accounting for the possibility that sickness absence and socioeconomic status are determined by common factors, discrete-time duration models were estimated, accounting for unobserved heterogeneity through random effects. Results: The results confirm that the failure to account for the dynamics of the individual’s career biases the influence from socioeconomic characteristics. Results consistently suggest a major influence from relative deprivation, with a consistently lower risk of sickness absence among the highly educated. Conclusions: Altering individual’s health behavior through education appears more efficient in reducing the reliance on sickness absence, rather than redistributive policies.
PMCID: PMC3799500  PMID: 23996012
sickness absence; Sweden; relative deprivation; duration analysis
12.  Life values as predictors of pain, disability and sick leave among Swedish registered nurses: a longitudinal study 
BMC Nursing  2011;10:17.
Prospective studies on high-risk populations, such as subgroups of health care staff, are limited, especially prospective studies among staff not on sick-leave. This paper is a report of a longitudinal study conducted to describe and compare the importance and consistency of life domains among registered nurses (RNs) working in a Swedish hospital and evaluate a model based on the consistency of valued life domains for prediction of pain, disability and sick leave.
Importance and consistency ratings of life values, in 9 domains, were collected during 2003 and 2006 from 196 RNs using the Valued Living Questionnaire (VLQ). Logistic regression analyses were used for prediction of pain, disability and sick leave at the three-year follow-up. The predictors family relations, marriage couples/intimate relations, parenting, friends/social life, work, education, leisure time, psychological well-being, and physical self-care were used at baseline.
RNs rated life values regarding parenting as most important and with the highest consistency both at baseline and at follow-up. No significant differences were found between RNs' ratings of importance and consistency over the three-year period, except for friends/social relations that revealed a significant decrease in importance at follow-up. The explanatory models for pain, disability and sick leave significantly predicted pain and disability at follow-up. The odds of having pain were significantly increased by one consistency rating (psychological well-being), while the odds were significantly decreased by physical self-care. In the model predicting disability, consistency in psychological well-being and education significantly increased the odds of being disabled, while consistency in physical self-care significantly decreased the odds.
The results suggest that there might be a link between intra-individual factors reflecting different aspects of appraised life values and musculoskeletal pain (MSP).
PMCID: PMC3198938  PMID: 21958331
13.  Effectiveness of a multidisciplinary care program on recovery and return to work of patients after gynaecological surgery; design of a randomized controlled trial 
Return to work after gynaecological surgery takes much longer than expected, irrespective of the level of invasiveness. In order to empower patients in recovery and return to work, a multidisciplinary care program consisting of an e-health intervention and integrated care management including participatory workplace intervention was developed.
We designed a randomized controlled trial to assess the effect of the multidisciplinary care program on full sustainable return to work in patients after gynaecological surgery, compared to usual clinical care. Two hundred twelve women (18-65 years old) undergoing hysterectomy and/or laparoscopic adnexal surgery on benign indication in one of the 7 participating (university) hospitals in the Netherlands are expected to take part in this study at baseline. The primary outcome measure is sick leave duration until full sustainable return to work and is measured by a monthly calendar of sickness absence during 26 weeks after surgery. Secondary outcome measures are the effect of the care program on general recovery, quality of life, pain intensity and complications, and are assessed using questionnaires at baseline, 2, 6, 12 and 26 weeks after surgery.
The discrepancy between expected physical recovery and actual return to work after gynaecological surgery contributes to the relevance of this study. There is strong evidence that long periods of sick leave can result in work disability, poorer general health and increased risk of mental health problems. We expect that this multidisciplinary care program will improve peri-operative care, contribute to a faster return to work of patients after gynaecological surgery and, as a consequence, will reduce societal costs considerably.
Trial registration
Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR2087
PMCID: PMC3355012  PMID: 22296950
Multidisciplinary care program; e-health intervention; integrated care management; participatory workplace intervention; gynaecological surgery; hysterectomy; laparoscopic adnexal surgery; return to work; work disability
14.  Sickness absence in hospital physicians: 2 year follow up study on determinants 
OBJECTIVES—To identify determinants of sickness absence in hospital physicians.
METHODS—The Poisson regression analyses of short (1-3 days) and long (>3 days) recorded spells of sickness absence relating to potential determinants of sickness absence were based on a 2 year follow up period and cohorts of 447 (251 male and 196 female) physicians and 466 controls (female head nurses and ward sisters).
RESULTS—There were no differences in health outcomes, self rated health status, prevalence of chronic illness, and being a case on the general health questionnaire (GHQ), between the groups but physicians took one third to a half the sick leave of controls. All the health outcomes were strongly associated with sickness absence in both groups. Of work related factors, teamwork had the greatest effect on sickness absence in physicians but not in the controls. Physicians working in poorly functioning teams were at 1.8 (95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.3 to 3.0) times greater risk of taking long spells than physicians working in well functioning teams. Risks related to overload, heavy on call responsibility, poor job control, social circumstances outside the workplace, and health behaviours were smaller.
CONCLUSION—This is the first study of hospital physicians to show the association between recorded sickness absence and factors across various areas of life. In this occupational group, sickness absence is strongly associated with health problems, and the threshold for taking sick leave is high. Poor teamwork seems to contribute to the sickness absenteeism of hospital physicians even more than traditional psychosocial risks—such as overload and low job control. These findings may have implications for training and health promotion in hospitals.

Keywords: health care personnel; occupational health; psychosocial factors
PMCID: PMC1740149  PMID: 11351050
15.  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
16.  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
17.  Effect of change in the psychosocial work environment on sickness absence: a seven year follow up of initially healthy employees 
STUDY OBJECTIVE—To investigate the impact of changes in psychosocial work environment on subsequent sickness absence.
DESIGN—Analysis of questionnaire and sickness absence data collected in three time periods: 1990-1991, before the recession; 1993, worst slump during the recession; and 1993-1997, a period after changes.
SETTING—Raisio, a town in south western Finland, during and after a period of economic decline.
PARTICIPANTS—530 municipal employees (138 men, 392 women) working during 1990-1997 who had no medically certified sick leaves in 1991. Mean length of follow up was 6.7 years.
MAIN RESULTS—After adjustment for the pre-recession levels, the changes in the job characteristics of the workers during the recession predicted their subsequent sick leaves. Lowered job control caused a 1.30 (95% CI = 1.19, 1.41) times higher risk of sick leave than an increase in job control. The corresponding figures in relation to decreased social support and increased job demands were 1.30 (95% CI = 1.20, 1.41) and 1.10 (95% CI = 1.03, 1.17), respectively. In some cases there was an interaction with socioeconomic status, changes in the job characteristics being stronger predictors of sick leaves for employees with a high income than for the others. The highest risks of sick leave (ranging from 1.40 to 1.90) were associated with combined effects related to poor levels of and negative changes in job control, job demands and social support.
CONCLUSION—Negative changes in psychosocial work environment have adverse effects on the health of employees. Those working in an unfavourable psychosocial environment before changes are at greatest risk.

Keywords: job characteristics; social support; ill health
PMCID: PMC1731704  PMID: 10846190
18.  Work-related psychosocial events as triggers of sick leave - results from a Swedish case-crossover study 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:175.
Although illness is an important cause of sick leave, it has also been suggested that non-medical risk factors may influence this association. If such factors impact on the period of decision making, they should be considered as triggers. Yet, there is no empirical support available.
The aim was to investigate whether recent exposure to work-related psychosocial events can trigger the decision to report sick when ill.
A case-crossover design was applied to 546 sick-leave spells, extracted from a Swedish cohort of 1 430 employees with a 3-12 month follow-up of new sick-leave spells. Exposure in a case period corresponding to an induction period of one or two days was compared with exposure during control periods sampled from workdays during a two-week period prior to sick leave for the same individual. This was done according to the matched-pair interval and the usual frequency approaches. Results are presented as odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI).
Most sick-leave spells happened in relation to acute, minor illnesses that substantially reduced work ability. The risk of taking sick leave was increased when individuals had recently been exposed to problems in their relationship with a superior (OR 3.63; CI 1.44-9.14) or colleagues (OR 4.68; CI 1.43-15.29). Individuals were also more inclined to report sick on days when they expected a very stressful work situation than on a day when they were not under such stress (OR 2.27; CI 1.40-3.70).
Exposure to problems in workplace relationships or a stressful work situation seems to be able to trigger reporting sick. Psychosocial work-environmental factors appear to have a short-term effect on individuals when deciding to report sick.
PMCID: PMC3072951  PMID: 21429193
19.  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
20.  The prevalence of work-related stress, and its association with self-perceived health and sick-leave, in a population of employed Swedish women 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:73.
Women report more occupational ill-health and are more sick-listed than men. Exploration of women's working conditions would therefore seem to be valuable. In this study we investigated the prevalence of work-related stress and its association with self-perceived health and sick-leave in a population of employed, working Swedish women.
This cross-sectional population study comprised 424 employed, working women who answered questionnaires on work-related stress, self-perceived health and sick-leave. The odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence interval (CI) was calculated in order to analyse the association between the exposure variables of work-related stress and outcome variables of ill-health symptoms, self-rated health and sick-leave.
Ten percent of the group reported high perceived stress owing to indistinct organisation and conflicts, and 25% high perceived stress owing to individual demands and commitment. Twenty-two percent reported low influence at work and 33% reported work interference with leisure time. All categories of overall work-related stress were significantly associated with increased odds of high level of illness symptoms, with the highest OR for high perceived stress owing to indistinct organisation and conflicts and high perceived stress owing to individual demands and commitment with an OR of 3.17 (CI = 1.51–6.62) and 4.53 (CI = 2.71–7.56) respectively. High perceived stress owing to indistinct organisation and conflicts and low influence at work were significantly associated with sick-leave with an OR of 3.85 (CI = 1.59–9.30) and 2.54 (CI = 1.17–5.48) respectively.
This study showed an association between, on the one hand, work-related stress, and on the other hand, illness symptoms and sick-leave. Distinguishing between the occurrence of negative work characteristics, and the immediate perception of stress because of these, resulted in a broad view of women's working conditions and expanded knowledge of work-related stress in women.
PMCID: PMC2653036  PMID: 19254367
21.  Early multidisciplinary assessment was associated with longer periods of sick leave: A randomized controlled trial in a primary health care centre 
To study the effects on sick leave from an early multidisciplinary assessment at a primary health care centre.
Randomized controlled trial.
Patients who saw GPs at a primary health care centre in mid-Sweden and asked for a sickness certificate for psychiatric or musculoskeletal diagnoses were invited to participate. Patients included were sick-listed for less than four weeks; 33 patients were randomized either to an assessment within a week by a physiotherapist, a psychotherapist, and an occupational therapist or to “standard care”. The therapists used methods and tools they normally use in their clinical work.
Main outcome measure
Proportion of patients still sick-listed three months after randomization, total and net days on sick leave, and proportion who were on part-time sick leave.
At follow-up after three months, in contrast to the pre-trial hypothesis, there was a trend toward a higher proportion of patients still sick-listed in the intervention group (7/18) as compared with the control group (3/15). The intervention group also had significantly longer sick-listing periods (mean 58 days) than the control group (mean 36 days) (p = 0.038). The proportion of patients who were part time sick-listed was significantly higher in the intervention group (10/18) than in the control group (2/15) (p = 0.027).
In this study an early multidisciplinary assessment was associated with longer periods on sick leave and more individuals on part-time sick leave.
PMCID: PMC3750435  PMID: 23909930
General practice; GP; multidisciplinary; primary health care; randomized controlled trial; rehabilitation; sick leave; sickness certification; Sweden
22.  Pregnancy related sickness absence in a Swedish county, 1985-87. 
Sickness absence during pregnancy has increased in Sweden as well as in other countries. STUDY OBJECTIVE--The study aimed to describe pregnancy related sickness absence and its increase from 1985-87; to consider if the increase were parallel to an increase in sickness absence for all diagnoses or could be explained by a higher birth rate; and to compare different ways of presenting sickness absence data. DESIGN--The data from a prospective incidence study of all new sick leave spells exceeding seven days in 1985-87 were related to the population at risk through relevant data from different registers. SETTING--The county of Ostergötland, Sweden (about 400,000 inhabitants). PARTICIPANTS--Subjects were approximately 70,000 sick leave-insured women aged 16-44 years, of whom some 15,000 had sickness absences > seven days. Some 4600 women gave birth in 1985, approximately 1300 of whom were listed as having pregnancy related diagnoses. MAIN RESULTS--The number of women with sick leave associated with pregnancy related diagnoses increased by 24% (95% confidence interval (CI) 15, 33%) during the period. This diagnosis group was one of the very few with an increasing number of people listed as sick. The corresponding increase for all diagnoses in women aged 16-44 years was < 1% (95% CI 1, 3%). The increase in the number of women who gave birth was 9% (95% CI 5, 13%). The sick leave rate associated with pregnancy related disorders increased by 14% (95% CI 7, 21%) in 1985-87, while that in all women aged 16-44 years increased by 3% (95% 1, 5%). (p < 0.0001). The number of sick leave days associated with pregnancy related disorders increased by 49% (p < 0.0001) in the period--twice the equivalent increase (p < 0.0001) in the total number of sick leave days for all diagnoses taken together. The sick leave rate and duration, like the increase in these variables, varied with age. Different ways of presenting the length of absence proved complementary to each other. CONCLUSIONS--After correcting for changes in the overall sick leave rate and in the birth rate, there is still an 11% increase in the sick leave rate associated with pregnancy related disorders that needs to be explained. Medical factors cannot explain this increase but changes in attitudes and practice in relation to sickness insurance among pregnant women and their doctors merit further study.
PMCID: PMC1060009  PMID: 7964356
23.  Sickness Absence Due to Specific Mental Diagnoses and All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality: A Cohort Study of 4.9 Million Inhabitants of Sweden 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45788.
Despite the magnitude and increase of sickness absence due to mental diagnoses, little is known regarding long-term health outcomes. The aim of this nationwide population-based, prospective cohort study was to investigate the association between sickness absence due to specific mental diagnoses and the risk of all-cause and cause-specific mortality.
A cohort of all 4 857 943 individuals living in Sweden on 31.12.2004 (aged 16–64 years, not sickness absent, or on retirement or disability pension), was followed from 01.01.2005 through 31.12.2008 for all-cause and cause-specific mortality (suicide, cancer, circulatory disease) through linkage of individual register data. Individuals with at least one new sick-leave spell with a mental diagnosis in 2005 were compared to individuals with no sickness absence. Hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated by Cox regression, adjusting for age, sex, education, country of birth, family situation, area of residence, and pre-existing morbidity (diagnosis-specific hospital inpatient (2000–2005) and outpatient (2001–2005) care).
In the multivariate analyses, mental sickness absence in 2005 was associated with an increased risk for all-cause mortality: HR: 1.65, 95% CI: 1.47–1.86 in women and in men: 1.73, 1.57–1.91; for suicide, cancer (both smoking and non-smoking related) as well as mortality due to circulatory disease only in men. Estimates for cause-specific mortality ranged from 1.48 to 3.37. Associations with all-cause mortality were found for all mental sickness absence diagnostic groups studied.
Knowledge about the prognosis of patients sickness absent with specific mental diagnoses is of crucial clinical importance in health care. Sickness absence due to specific mental diagnoses may here be used as a risk indictor for subsequent mortality.
PMCID: PMC3458091  PMID: 23049861
24.  Analysis of sickness absence among employees of four NHS trusts 
OBJECTIVES: To determine the value of using routinely collected sickness absence data as part of a health needs assessment of healthcare workers. METHOD: Sickness absence records of almost 12900 NHS staff for one calendar year were analysed. Three measures of absence, the absence rate, the absence frequency rate, and the mean duration of absence, were assessed for the population and comparisons made between men and women, full and part time and different occupational groups of staff. Also, the main causes of sickness absence were found. RESULTS: Almost 60% of the study population had no spells of sickness absence in the year of study and almost 20% had only one spell of sickness absence. Female staff were more likely to have experienced sickness absence than male staff. Although absence due to conditions related to pregnancy were included in the analysis, the incidence of these was not sufficient to account for the higher rates of absence among female staff. In general, full time staff had greater rates of sickness absence than part time staff. 71% of all absences were of < 1 week duration. The main known causes of sickness absence were respiratory disorders, digestive disorders, and musculoskeletal disorders. CONCLUSIONS: The transition from units managed directly from the health board to trusts with individual responsibility for personnel issues at the time of data collection resulted in variations in the quality of data available for analysis. This together with the use of "dump" codes has influenced the quality of the analysis. However, such data should be available for analysis to tailor occupational health care to the needs of the population.
PMCID: PMC1757661  PMID: 10658551
25.  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

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