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Workplace Levels of Psychosocial Factors as Prospective Predictors of Registered Sickness Absence

Christensen, Karl Bang PhD; Nielsen, Martin L. MD; Rugulies, Reiner PhD; Smith-Hansen, Lars BaTechnSoc; Kristensen, Tage S. DrMedSci

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2005 - Volume 47 - Issue 9 - p 933-940
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000172864.16001.85
Original Articles

Objective: We sought to investigate whether workplace levels of psychosocial work environment factors predict individual sickness absence.

Methods: Data were collected in a prospective study in 52 Danish workplaces in three organizations: municipal care, technical services, and a pharmaceutical company. Psychosocial factors were aggregated as workplace means. We used multilevel Poisson regression models with psychosocial factors as predictors and individual level sickness absence from absence registries as outcome.

Results: High workplace levels of decision authority predicted low sickness absence in the technical services (rate ratio = 0.66, 95% confidence interval = 0.51–0.86) and high workplace levels of skill discretion predicted low sickness absence in the pharmaceutical company (rate ratio = 0.74, 95% confidence interval = 0.62–0.88) after control for relevant confounders. Workplaces in municipal care did not differ with respect to the psychosocial factors.

Conclusions: Psychosocial factors at the workplace level may be important predictors of sickness absence.

From the National Institute of Occupational Health, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Address correspondence to: Karl Bang Christensen, PhD, National Institute of Occupational Health, Denmark, Lerso Parkallé 105, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark; E-mail:

©2005The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine