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The fraction of long-term sickness absence attributable to work environmental factors: prospective results from the Danish Work Environment Cohort Study
  1. Karl Bang Christensen,
  2. Thomas Lund,
  3. Merete Labriola,
  4. Ebbe Villadsen,
  5. Ute Bültmann
  1. National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to:
 K B Christensen
 National Institute of Occupational Health, Lerso Parkalle 105, Copenhagen DK-2100, Denmark; kbc{at}ami.dk

Abstract

Objective: To examine the fraction of long-term sickness absence periods attributable to physical and psychosocial work environmental risk factors.

Method: A random population sample was followed for 18 months in a national register of social transfer payments. Mutually adjusted hazard ratios for onset of long-term sickness absence and aetiological fractions were computed.

Results: After mutual adjustment, no significant effect of psychosocial work environment factors remained. In men, 23% and 28% of long-term sickness absence were attributable to working mainly standing or squatting, and lifting or carrying loads, respectively. In women, 27% of long-term sickness absence was attributable to bending or twisting of the neck or back.

Conclusions: Physical work environment exposures explained between 10% and 30% of long-term sickness absence. The potential for reducing long-term sickness absence is substantial.

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Footnotes

  • Competing interests: None declared.

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