What is healthy work for women and men? - A case-control study of gender- and sector-specific effects of psycho-social working conditions on long-term sickness absence

Work. 2006;27(2):153-63.


The aim of the study was to investigate the relevance of the demand-control model and social support in predicting long-term sickness absence (LTSA). Identifying gender- and sector- (private vs. public) specific patterns was in focus. The study uses a cross-sectional design with a case and a control group. The cases are a sample of 2 327 long-term sick listed (>60 days) and the controls are a Swedish population-based sample of 2 063. Data on sickness absence were retrieved from the Swedish national social insurance registers. Data on health, working and living conditions were gathered through a self-administered questionnaire. The results show that employed women have a notably higher risk for LTSA than employed men. High-strain jobs increase the odds for LTSA among both women and men. Active jobs were also associated with LTSA among women. The study confirms the demand-control model (job strain hypothesis) and social support and their associations with LTSA. However, the job strain hypothesis is more evident in the private sector. Active jobs with high psychological demands and high decision latitude seem to be problematic for many women, especially in the private sector. Thus, the active learning hypothesis receives no support for women in the Swedish working population in general.

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism*
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Private Sector*
  • Public Sector*
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Support*
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Sweden
  • Workload*