The role of depression and chronic pain conditions in absenteeism: results from a national epidemiologic survey

J Occup Environ Med. 2007 Nov;49(11):1206-11. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318157f0ba.


Objective: This study examined whether depression is associated with absenteeism in a sample of individuals with chronic pain.

Methods: Data were obtained from the Canadian Community Health Survey Cycle 1.2. Key variables were chronic pain, defined as fibromyalgia, arthritis/rheumatism, back problems, and migraine headaches, absenteeism, and depression. The sample comprised 9,238,154 individuals who reported at least one chronic pain condition and were absent from their job in the previous week because of illness or disability.

Results: Nineteen percent of absent individuals met criteria for major depression versus 7.9% of non-absent individuals. The presence of major depression represented a three-fold risk of absenteeism. Other risk factors for absenteeism included younger age, higher income, and more education.

Conclusions: Comorbid depression and chronic pain represents a significant source of disability in the workforce.

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Chronic Disease
  • Depression / complications
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / complications*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain / complications*
  • Risk Factors