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Psychosocial Work Environment Predictors of Short and Long Spells of Registered Sickness Absence During a 2-year Follow Up

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

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: June 2006 - Volume 48 - Issue 6 - p 591-598
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000201567.70084.3a
Original Articles

Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of psychosocial work environment factors on short and long absence spells.

Methods: Questionnaire data on work environment exposures and registered absence data during 2-year follow up were analyzed with Poisson regression for 1919 employees from the private and public sector.

Results: Short spells (1–10 working days) were predicted by low supervisor support, low predictability, and low meaning at work among men and high skill discretion among women. Long spells (>10 days) were predicted by low decision authority, low supervisor support, and low predictability among men and high psychologic demands and low decision authority among women. The variables predictability and meaning at work were developed for this study.

Conclusion: Specific psychosocial work environment factors have both common and different effects on short and long absence spells. Effects also differ by gender.

From the National Institute of Occupational Health (Dr Nielsen, Dr Rugulies, Dr Christensen, Mr. Smith-Hansen, Dr Kristensen), Copenhagen, Denmark; and the Clinic of Occupational Medicine (Dr Nielsen), Hillerød Hospital, Hillerød, Denmark.

Address correspondence to: Martin L. Nielsen, MD, Department of Occupational Medicine, Hillerød Hospital, Helsevej 2, DK 3400 Hillerød, Denmark; E-mail:

©2006The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine