Hostility and registered sickness absences: a prospective study of municipal employees

Psychol Med. 1997 May;27(3):693-701. doi: 10.1017/s0033291797004832.


Background: Prior evidence on the relationship between hostility and minor health problems is limited to cross-sectional self-report studies. In the present study, this relationship was examined prospectively.

Methods: Hostility of 1077 municipal employees was measured by a questionnaire survey and minor health problems by using 4-year register-based absence data including medically certificated diagnoses.

Results: High hostility predicted a high total number of long-term sickness absence spells among men, but not among women. In separate diagnostic categories (musculo-skeletal, traumas and injuries, respiratory), hostility related positively and linearly to absences due to traumatic causes and curvilinearly (U-shape) to absences due to musculo-skeletal causes. Controlling the effects of health risk behaviour and demographic background did not significantly change these figures. However, health risk behaviour moderated the relations of hostility to overall long-term sickness absences, and to traumatic and musculo-skeletal absences, being significantly stronger in high-risk groups. No association was found between hostility and non-certificated short-term absence spells.

Conclusions: The results suggest that hostility plays a role in the aetiology of minor health problems.

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Health Behavior
  • Hostility*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Local Government
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / psychology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology