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1.  Associations between partial sickness benefit and disability pensions: initial findings of a Finnish nationwide register study 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:361.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-361
PMCID: PMC2912806  PMID: 20573207
2.  Sleep Restriction Increases the Risk of Developing Cardiovascular Diseases by Augmenting Proinflammatory Responses through IL-17 and CRP 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(2):e4589.
Background
Sleep restriction, leading to deprivation of sleep, is common in modern 24-h societies and is associated with the development of health problems including cardiovascular diseases. Our objective was to investigate the immunological effects of prolonged sleep restriction and subsequent recovery sleep, by simulating a working week and following recovery weekend in a laboratory environment.
Methods and Findings
After 2 baseline nights of 8 hours time in bed (TIB), 13 healthy young men had only 4 hours TIB per night for 5 nights, followed by 2 recovery nights with 8 hours TIB. 6 control subjects had 8 hours TIB per night throughout the experiment. Heart rate, blood pressure, salivary cortisol and serum C-reactive protein (CRP) were measured after the baseline (BL), sleep restriction (SR) and recovery (REC) period. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were collected at these time points, counted and stimulated with PHA. Cell proliferation was analyzed by thymidine incorporation and cytokine production by ELISA and RT-PCR. CRP was increased after SR (145% of BL; p<0.05), and continued to increase after REC (231% of BL; p<0.05). Heart rate was increased after REC (108% of BL; p<0.05). The amount of circulating NK-cells decreased (65% of BL; p<0.005) and the amount of B-cells increased (121% of BL; p<0.005) after SR, but these cell numbers recovered almost completely during REC. Proliferation of stimulated PBMC increased after SR (233% of BL; p<0.05), accompanied by increased production of IL-1β (137% of BL; p<0.05), IL-6 (163% of BL; p<0.05) and IL-17 (138% of BL; p<0.05) at mRNA level. After REC, IL-17 was still increased at the protein level (119% of BL; p<0.05).
Conclusions
5 nights of sleep restriction increased lymphocyte activation and the production of proinflammatory cytokines including IL-1β IL-6 and IL-17; they remained elevated after 2 nights of recovery sleep, accompanied by increased heart rate and serum CRP, 2 important risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, long-term sleep restriction may lead to persistent changes in the immune system and the increased production of IL-17 together with CRP may increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004589
PMCID: PMC2643002  PMID: 19240794
3.  Effectiveness of early part-time sick leave in musculoskeletal disorders 
Background
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.
Methods/Design
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.
Conclusion
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
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-9-23
PMCID: PMC2267790  PMID: 18294405
4.  Work stress and risk of cardiovascular mortality: prospective cohort study of industrial employees 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7369):857.
Objective
To examine the association between work stress, according to the job strain model and the effort-reward imbalance model, and the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
Design
Prospective cohort study. Baseline examination in 1973 determined cases of cardiovascular disease, behavioural and biological risks, and stressful characteristics of work. Biological risks were measured at 5 year and 10 year follow up.
Setting
Staff of a company in the metal industry in Finland.
Participants
812 employees (545 men, 267 women) who were free from cardiovascular diseases at baseline.
Main outcome measure
Cardiovascular mortality 1973-2001 from the national mortality register.
Results
Mean length of follow up was 25.6 years. After adjustment for age and sex, employees with high job strain, a combination of high demands at work and low job control, had a 2.2-fold (95% confidence interval 1.2 to 4.2) cardiovascular mortality risk compared with their colleagues with low job strain. The corresponding risk ratio for employees with effort-reward imbalance (low salary, lack of social approval, and few career opportunities relative to efforts required at work) was 2.4 (1.3 to 4.4). These ratios remained significant after additional adjustment for occupational group and biological and behavioural risks at baseline. High job strain was associated with increased serum total cholesterol at the 5 year follow up. Effort-reward imbalance predicted increased body mass index at the 10 year follow up.
Conclusions
High job strain and effort-reward imbalance seem to increase the risk of cardiovascular mortality. The evidence from industrial employees suggests that attention should be paid to the prevention of work stress.
What is already known on this topicJob strain (high demands and low job control) and effort-reward imbalance (high demands, low security, few career opportunities) elicit stress at workTheir status as risk factors for cardiovascular mortality has, however, remained uncertainWhat this study addsJob strain and effort-reward imbalance were each associated with a doubling of the risk of cardiovascular death among employees who were free from overt cardiovascular diseases at baselineJob strain and effort-reward imbalance also predicted adverse changes in biological factors such as cholesterol concentration and body mass index
PMCID: PMC129630  PMID: 12386034

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