Objectives To determine the incidence and costs of sickness absence (SA) among newly employed Brazilian municipal workers.
Methods A dynamic cohort composed of all permanent civil servants hired from 2005 to 2011 by the Goiania municipality, in Brazil. Records of medically certified SA longer than three days were provided by the municipality. Incidence density (ID) was calculated per 1,000 person-years in each ICD-10 category. The costs were calculated by summing the benefits paid for work days lost during the follow up time.
Results 18,450 workers, median age of 32 years, accumulated 14,909 SA episodes totaling 323,646 work days lost. The total cost of sickness absence was $8,963,217,592 USD. The mean SA episode was 22 days, and the mean cost was $601.1/episode. Overall the ID was 228.8 episodes per 1,000 person-years. Diagnostic groups with the highest SA ID were injuries (48.3 per 1,000 person-years), musculoskeletal diseases (31.0 per 1,000 person-years) and mental disorders (28.1 per 1,000 person-years). Highest episode costs were associated with mental disorder and injuries, and the lowest costs were for infectious diseases. Major cost peaks were observed among females (71.4%), aged 25 to 34 years (41.4%), married (51.2%), with high education (54.9%) and highest income (59.6%), among health professionals (30.9%), with multiple jobs (63.3%) and working part time (55.6%).
Conclusions This study showed a substantial economic burden of SA among Brazilian newly employed workers. Our findings suggest the need of the implementation of preventive actions target to new workers, such as proper training, reduction of work-related stress, adequate supervisor support, and the surveillance of early symptoms.