Depressive complaints as a predictor of sickness absence among the working population

J Occup Environ Med. 2009 Aug;51(8):887-95. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181aa012a.


Objective: To study the relationship between depressive complaints and sickness absence in the working population.

Methods: Data from a prospective epidemiological cohort (n = 3339) were used. Depressive complaints were measured with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression (HAD-D) Scale. Sickness absence was assessed objectively through individual record linkage with the company registers.

Results: Higher levels of depressive complaints were associated with a shorter time to first sickness absence spell and a longer duration of sickness absence. In women with mild depressive complaints, the average number of sickness absence days over 10 months follow-up was 27.37 (SD = 64.73) days versus 11.01 (SD = 30.03) days (P < 0.001) in employees scoring within the reference range. In men this was 14.48 (SD = 38.73) days versus 7.67 (SD = 25.80) days (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: Prevention of mild depressive complaints might be beneficial in preventing future sickness absence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression / physiopathology*
  • Employment*
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sick Leave*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires