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Sickness Absence, Employment History, and High-Risk Employees: A 10-Year Longitudinal Study

Lu, Xiaoshu PhD; Laaksonen, Mikko PhD; Aittomäki, Akseli PhD; Leino-Arjas, Päivi PhD; Rahkonen, Ossi PhD; Saatamoinen, Peppiina PhD; Lahelma, Eero PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2010 - Volume 52 - Issue 9 - p 913-919
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181f12ee0
Original Articles

Objective: To investigate the impact of employment characteristics on the occurrence of long-term sickness absence taking socioeconomic covariates into account.

Methods: A longitudinal analysis was conducted for 62,745 employees aged 18 to 64 during 1990–1999. A nonlinear random-effects model was used. In particular, the missing data patterns and their relationship with sickness absence were studied.

Results: Strong relationship of socioeconomic background with occurrence of long-term sickness absence (≥3 days) was found. The missing data patterns significantly predicted sickness absence for female employees. In subsequent analysis, the discontinuous employment history with high occurrence of short-term sickness absence (<3 days) appeared to be strongly linked to long-term sickness absence in young women.

Conclusions: An investigation of missing values and short-term sickness absence as predictors for long-term sickness absence uncovered that young women with irregular employment history constituted high-risk employees.

From the Center for Work-Related Diseases (Dr Lu, Dr Leino-Arjas), Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Topeliuksenkatu; and Department of Public Health (Dr Laaksonen, Dr Aittomäki, Dr Rahkonen, Dr Saatamoinen, Dr Lahelma), University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.

Address correspondence to: Dr X. Lu, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Topeliuksenkatu 41 a A, FIN-00250 Helsinki, Finland; E-mail:

©2010The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine