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Manager-oriented intervention to reduce absence among pregnant employees in the healthcare and daycare sector: a cluster randomised trial
  1. Luise Moelenberg Begtrup,
  2. Per Malmros,
  3. Charlotte Brauer,
  4. Sandra Soegaard Toettenborg,
  5. Esben Meulengracht Flachs,
  6. Paula Edeusa Cristina Hammer,
  7. Jens Peter Bonde
  1. Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Copenhagen University Hospital Bispebjerg, Copenhagen, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Dr Luise Moelenberg Begtrup, Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Copenhagen University Hospital Bispebjerg, Copenhagen, DK011, Denmark; luise.moelenberg.begtrup.02{at}


Objective The aim was to test if targeting managers with an educational intervention reduces absence among pregnant employees.

Methods The study was a non-blinded cluster randomised trial conducted in hospitals and daycare institutions from two administrative Danish Regions and two Danish municipalities. Clusters (work units) were assigned randomly and non-blinded to either (1) intervention, where all managers were invited to participate in a 3-hour seminar addressing needs and options for adjustment of work in pregnancy, or (2) control, with practice as usual. The primary outcome based on payroll data was long-term pregnancy-related absence, defined as ≥12.5% cumulated absence during pregnancy weeks 1–32. Intention-to-treat analysis was applied using mixed logistic regression.

Results Ninety work units were included (56 hospital departments and 34 daycare units) with 451 pregnant employees in the intervention group and 464 in the control group. Work units had on average 11 pregnant employees with no difference between the groups. 103 of the 216 invited managers (48%) participated in a the 3-hour seminar. In the intervention group, 154 (34%) had long-term pregnancy-related absence during pregnancy weeks 1–32 vs 166 (36%) in the control group. Relative odds of having long-term pregnancy-related absence, when being in the intervention group, was 1.06 (95% CI 0.71 to 1.58), with an interclass correlation coefficient of 0.07.

Conclusion An educational intervention targeting managers did not reduce pregnancy-related absence among pregnant employees.

Trial registration number NCT03002987.

  • sickness absence
  • occupational health practice
  • intervention studies
  • organisation of work
  • fertility

Data availability statement

No data are available.

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  • Contributors LMB, JPB, CB and PM conceived and designed the study. EMF coded the allocation sequence. LMB enrolled clusters and assigned according to the block randomisation scheme. JPB and LMB analysed the data and EMF gave statistical support. LMB drafted the manuscript, and all authors interpreted data and revised the manuscript.

  • Funding The work was supported by the Danish working Environment Research Fund (grant 31-2015-09 20150067279).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.