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.