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Workplace social capital and co-occurrence of lifestyle risk factors: the Finnish Public Sector Study
  1. A Väänänen1,
  2. A Kouvonen2,
  3. M Kivimäki3,
  4. T Oksanen1,
  5. M Elovainio4,
  6. M Virtanen1,
  7. J Pentti1,
  8. J Vahtera1
  1. 1
    Centre of Expertise for Work Organizations, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland
  2. 2
    Institute of Work, Health & Organisations, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  3. 3
    Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London Medical School, London, UK
  4. 4
    National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health (STAKES), Helsinki, Finland
  1. Ari Väänänen, Centre of Expertise for Work Organizations, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Topeliuksenkatu 41 a A, FI-00250 Helsinki, Finland; Ari.Vaananen{at}


Objective: The aim of this prospective study was to examine the link between individual and ecological workplace social capital and the co-occurrence of adverse lifestyle risk factors such as smoking, heavy drinking, physical inactivity and overweight.

Methods: Data on 25 897 female and 5476 male public sector employees were analysed. Questionnaire surveys conducted in 2000–2002 (baseline) and 2004–2005 (follow-up) were used to assess workplace social capital, lifestyle risk factors and other characteristics. Multilevel multinomial logistic regression analysis was used to examine associations between individual and ecological social capital and the co-occurrence of lifestyle risk factors.

Results: In the cross-sectional analysis adjusted for age, sex, marital status and employer, low social capital at work at both the individual and ecological level was associated with at least a 1.3 times higher odds of having more than two lifestyle risk factors versus having no risk factors. Similar associations were found in the prospective setting. However, additional adjustment for the co-occurrence of risk factors and socioeconomic status at baseline attenuated the result to non-significant.

Conclusion: Social capital at work seems to be associated with a lowered risk of co-occurrence of multiple lifestyle risk factors but does not clearly predict the future risk of this co-occurrence.

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  • Competing interests: None.

  • Funding: The work presented in this paper was supported by grants from the Academy of Finland (projects 110451, 117604, 124322, 124271 and 128089), the Finnish Work Environment Fund and the participating towns and hospitals.