Long-term sick-listing among women in the public sector and its associations with age, social situation, lifestyle, and work factors: a three-year follow-up study

Scand J Public Health. 2005;33(5):370-5. doi: 10.1080/14034940510005860.


Background: Since 1997 the number of long-term sick-listed people in Sweden has increased dramatically, especially among women employed in the public sector.

Aims: The aim of this study was to investigate associations between age, social situation, lifestyle, work factors, and long-term sick-listing (> or =28 days), regardless of diagnosis, during a period of three years among women employed in the public sector.

Methods: Exposure information at baseline was recorded by a questionnaire. All new spells of sick listing (> or =28 days were consecutively reported from the employer for three years from baseline. In total 6,246 women from the public sector in Sweden answered the questionnaire (85% response rate); 5,224 were classified as having good or rather good health for working and were included. Of these, 918 persons had spells of sick-listing (> or =28 days during follow-up.

Results: Univariate and multivariate analyses for calculating relative risks (RR) were carried out. In the Cox regression model age (RR 1.4), strained financial situation (RR 1.3), obesity (RR 1.3), bullying (RR 1.5), physical demands at work higher than own capacity (RR 1.5), and mental demands at work higher than own capacity (1.2) remained risk indicators for long-term sick-listing.

Conclusion: This study suggests prevention of some work and lifestyle factors as general measures to reduce long-term sick-listing among women in the public sector.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Middle Aged
  • Public Sector*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sick Leave* / statistics & numerical data
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Work Capacity Evaluation
  • Workplace