Work environment as predictor of long-term sickness absence: linkage of self-reported DWECS data with the DREAM register

Scand J Public Health. 2011 Jul;39(7 Suppl):147-52. doi: 10.1177/1403494811401480.


Introduction: The present overview discusses ten papers dealing with four research topics using self-reported work environment in the Danish Work Environment Cohort Study (DWECS) linked with register data on long-term sickness absence (LTSA) in the Danish Register for Evaluation of Marginalisation (DREAM).

Research topics: Research relied on self-reported data among 3000-5000 employees linked with registered LTSA data. Analyses were performed with Cox regression models. Risk groups: Kindergarten teachers and daycare workers were at high risk for LTSA.

Risk factors: Mainly physical exposures but also psychosocial factors were risk factors for LTSA. Attributable fractions: A quarter of LTSA spells could be attributed to the physical work environment. Most of the association between social class and LTSA was explained by physical work environment and smoking. Mechanisms: Depressive symptoms, severe pain in hands, and low back and pain intensity were risk factors for LTSA. Only in work sites with traditional leadership did health problems predict LTSA.

Conclusion: The linking of DWECS with DREAM has made it possible to estimate the importance of work environment factors for LTSA. Future research should deal with possible risk factors such as health problems and organisational factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Cohort Studies
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leadership
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Registries* / standards
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • Sick Leave
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace / organization & administration
  • Workplace / psychology