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Impact of Burnout and Psychosocial Work Characteristics on Future Long-Term Sickness Absence. Prospective Results of the Danish PUMA Study Among Human Service Workers

Borritz, Marianne MD, PhD; Christensen, Karl Bang PhD; Bültmann, Ute PhD; Rugulies, Reiner PhD; Lund, Thomas PhD; Andersen, Ingelise PhD; Villadsen, Ebbe; Diderichsen, Finn MD, PhD; Kristensen, Tage S. Dr Med Sci

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: October 2010 - Volume 52 - Issue 10 - p 964-970
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181f12f95
Original Articles

Objectives: The objective of this study was to examine if burnout and psychosocial factors predicted long-term sickness absence (>2 weeks) at work unit level.

Methods: Data were collected prospectively at 82-work units in human services (PUMA cohort, PUMA: Danish acronym for Burnout, Motivation and Job satisfaction) followed up during the proceeding 18 months regarding onset of long-term sickness absence. Questionnaire data regarding burnout and psychosocial factors were aggregated at work unit level. We used Poisson regression models with psychosocial factors and burnout as predictors of long-term sickness absence for more than 18 months based on data from a national absence register.

Results: Long-term sickness absence was predicted by psychosocial factors and by burnout at work unit level.

Conclusion: To reduce sickness absence, organizations within human services should improve the psychosocial work environment, and equally important, the organizations should be attentive to employees with symptoms of burnout.

From the Department of Occupational Medicine (Dr Borritz), Bispebjerg University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark; National Research Centre for the Working Environment (Dr Borritz, Dr Rugulies, Mr Villadsen), Denmark; Department of Public Health (Dr Christensen, Dr Andersen, Dr Diderichsen), University of Copenhagen, København, Denmark; University Medical Center Groningen (Dr Bültmann), The Netherlands; International Research Institute of Stavanger (Dr Lund), Norway; and the Task-Consult (Dr Kristensen), Denmark.

CME Available for this Article at

Authors Christopher Magee, Peter Caputi, Natalie Stefanic, and Don C Iverson have no financial interest related to this research.

The JOEM Editorial Board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.

Address correspondence to: Marianne Borritz, MD, PhD, Department of Occupational Medicine, Bispebjerg University Hospital, DK-2400 Copenhagen NV, Denmark; E-mail:

©2010The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine