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Work factors as predictors of sickness absence attributed to airway infections; a three month prospective study of nurses’ aides
  1. W Eriksen1,
  2. D Bruusgaard1,
  3. S Knardahl2
  1. 1Department of General Practice and Community Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  2. 2National Institute of Occupational Health, Oslo, Norway, and Institute of Psychology, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr W Eriksen
 Department of General Practice and Community Medicine, University of Oslo, PO Box 1130 Blindern, 0318 Oslo, Norway;


Aims: To identify the work factors that are related to sickness absence attributed to airway infections (AAI) in nurses’ aides.

Methods: The sample comprised 5563 Norwegian nurses’ aides, not on sick leave when they completed a mailed questionnaire in 1999. Of these, 4931 (88.6%) completed a second questionnaire three months later. The outcome measure was the three month incidence proportion of certified AAI (>3 days), assessed by self reports at follow up.

Results: Working in a paediatric ward (odds ratio (OR) 2.42; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.39 to 4.21), perceived lack of encouraging and supportive culture in the work unit (OR 1.78; 95% CI 1.21 to 2.61), and reporting medium (OR 1.52; 95% CI 1.09 to 2.12), and high levels (OR 1.60; 95% CI 1.13 to 2.26) of role conflicts at work were associated with an increased risk of AAI, after adjustments for baseline health complaints, demographic and familial factors, smoking, and a series of physical, psychological, and organisational work factors. The individual level factors male gender, smoking 10 cigarettes per day or more, having widespread pain, having had an accident related neck injury, and having long term health problems also predicted AAI.

Conclusions: In nurses’ aides, sickness absence attributed to airway infections seems to be related to the type of ward in which the aides are working, and to psychological and social work factors. Declaring airway infections as occupational diseases would have important consequences for the social security system.

  • sick leave
  • occupational health
  • nurses’ aides

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