Do work factors modify the association between chronic health problems and sickness absence among older employees?

The aim of this study was to (i) assess how common chronic health problems and work-related factors predict sickness absence and (ii) explore whether work-related factors modify the effects of health problems on sickness absence. Common health problems were related to follow-up sickness absence, most strongly to high cumulative sickness absence (>9 days per year). Baseline psychological health problems were strongly related to high sickness absence at follow-up [odds ratio (OR) 3.67, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 2.80–4.82]. Higher job demands at baseline increased the likelihood of high sickness absence at follow-up among workers with severe headaches [RERI 1.35 (95% CI 0.45–2.25)] and psychological health problems [RERI 3.51 (95% CI 0.67–6.34)] at baseline. Lower autonomy at baseline increased the likelihood of high sickness absence at follow-up among those with musculoskeletal [RERI 0.57 (95% CI 0.05–1.08)], circulatory [RERI 0.82 (95% CI 0.00–1.63)], and psychological health problems [RERI 2.94 (95% CI 0.17–5.70)] at baseline. Lower autonomy and higher job demands increased the association of an array of common chronic health problems with sickness absence, and thus focus should be placed on altering these factors in order to reduce sickness absence and essentially promote sustainable employability.

Source : Leijten FRM, van den Heuvel SG, Ybema JF, Robroek SJW, Burdorf A. Do work factors modify the association between chronic health problems and sickness absence among older employees? Scand J Work Environ Health Online-first -article . http://dx.doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.3353

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