Objectives: This prospective cohort study examines number of self-reported days of sickness absence as a risk marker for future disability pension among a representative sample of employees in Denmark 1990-2004.
Material and methods: 4177 employees between 18 and 45 years were interviewed using a self-administered questionnaire in 1990 regarding sickness absence, age, gender, socioeconomic position, health behaviour, and physical and psychosocial work environment. They were followed for 168 months in a national disability pension register. Logistic regression analysis was performed in order to assess risk estimates for levels of absence and future disability pension.
Results: During follow-up, a total of 140 persons (3.4%) received disability pension. Of these, 82 (58.6%) were women, 58 (41.4%) were men. There was a 2.5 fold risk of future disability pension for the part of the population reporting more than 6 days of sickness absence per annum at baseline, when taking into account gender, age, socioeconomic position, health behaviour, physical and psychosocial work environment.
Conclusion: The findings suggest that information on self-reported days of sickness absence can be used to effectively identify "at risk" groups for disability pension.