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Does Affective Organizational Commitment and Experience of Meaning at Work Predict Long-Term Sickness Absence? An Analysis of Register-Based Outcomes Using Pooled Data on 61,302 Observations in Four Occupational Groups

Clausen, Thomas PhD; Burr, Hermann PhD; Borg, Vilhelm MSc

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: February 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 2 - p 129–135
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000078
Original Articles

Objective: To investigate whether experience of low meaning at work (MAW) and low affective organizational commitment (AOC) predicts long-term sickness absence (LTSA) for more than 3 consecutive weeks and whether this association is dependent on the occupational group.

Methods: Survey data pooling 61,302 observations were fitted to the DREAM register containing information on payments of sickness absence compensation. Using multiadjusted Cox regression, observations were followed for an 18-month follow-up period to assess the risk for LTSA.

Results: Low levels of MAW and AOC significantly increased the risk for LTSA during follow-up. Subgroup analyses showed that associations were statistically significant for employees working with clients and office workers but not for employees working with customers and manual workers. Further analyses showed that associations between MAW and LTSA varied significantly across the four occupational groups.

Conclusions: Meaning at work and affective organizational commitment significantly predict LTSA. Promoting MAW and AOC may contribute toward reducing LTSA in contemporary workplaces.

From the National Research Centre for the Working Environment (Dr Clausen and Mr Borg), Copenhagen, Denmark; and Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA), Berlin, Germany (Dr Burr).

Address correspondence to: Thomas Clausen, PhD, National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Lersoe Parkalle 105, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark (

The research was funded by a grant from the Danish Working Environment Research Fund (grant number 16-2009-03).

Authors Clausen, Burr, and Borg have no relationships/conditions/circumstances that present potential conflict of interest.

The JOEM editorial board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.

Copyright © 2014 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine