Gender trends in sick-listing with musculoskeletal symptoms in a Swedish county during a period of rapid increase in sickness absence

Scand J Soc Med. 1998 Sep;26(3):204-13. doi: 10.1177/14034948980260031101.


Sickness absence and disability pension due to musculoskeletal diagnoses has increased in Sweden.

Study objective: To study gender trends in sickness absence with musculoskeletal diagnoses and its changes in 1985-87.

Design: A prospective population-based study of all new sick-leave spells exceeding seven days in 1985-87. Sickness absence with "all diagnoses" was compared to "all musculoskeletal diagnoses", the latter group was also divided into three sub-groups.

Setting: The county of Ostergötland, Sweden.

Participants: All sick-leave insured aged 16-65; 107,000 women and 100,000 men.

Results: More women than men were sick-listed in "all diagnoses" in 1985. There were corresponding gender differences in sickness absence with musculoskeletal diagnoses except with the diagnosis "low back pain". Sick-listing with musculoskeletal diagnoses increased for both women and men from 1985 to 1987, but the increase was consistently much higher for women, especially for younger women.

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Sick Leave / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sweden / epidemiology