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Work-Related Psychosocial Risk Factors for Long-Term Sick Leave: A Prospective Study of the General Working Population in Norway

Aagestad, Cecilie MSc; Johannessen, Håkon A. PhD; Tynes, Tore MD, PhD; Gravseth, Hans Magne MD, PhD; Sterud, Tom PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: August 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 8 - p 787–793
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000212
Original Articles

Objective: To examine the effect of work-related psychosocial exposures on long-term sick leave (LTSL) in the general working population.

Methods: A prospective study of the general working population in Norway. Eligible respondents were interviewed in 2009 and registered with at least 100 working days in 2009 and 2010 (n = 6758). The outcome was medically confirmed LTSL of 40 days or more during 2010.

Results: In the fully adjusted model, high exposure to role conflict (odds ratio [OR], 1.58; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.20 to 2.09), emotional demands (OR, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.03 to 1.69), and low supportive leadership (OR = 1.50; 95% CI, 1.15 to 1.96) predicted LTSL. A test for trend was statistically significant for all factors (P ≤ 0.05). We estimated that 15% of LTSL cases were attributable to these factors.

Conclusions: This study underlines the importance of taking into account psychosocial exposures as risk factors for LTSL.

From the Department of Occupational Health Surveillance (Ms Aagestad and Drs Johannessen, Tynes, Gravseth, and Sterud), National Institute of Occupational Health, Oslo; and Department of Behavioral Sciences (Ms Aagestad), Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway.

Address correspondence to: Cecilie Aagestad, MSc, Department of Occupational Health Surveillance, National Institute of Occupational Health, PO Box 8149 Dep, NO-0033 Oslo, Norway (

Authors Aagestad, Johannessen, Tynes, Gravseth, and Sterud have no relationships/conditions/circumstances that present potential conlict 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