The impact of stress and life style factors on short-term sickness absence in a large Danish industrial company

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Objectives: Work-related stress and certain lifestyles have been associated with sickness absence
among employees. We analysed relations between stress and lifestyles (as risk factors) and shortterm sickness absence among employees of a large Danish industrial company. Moreover, we
analysed the impact of risk factors on short-term sickness absence.
Methods: A self-administered questionnaire was completed by 7753 employees (67% response
rate). Relations between risk factors (dyssomnia, low physical activity, alcohol, smoking, unhealthy
food habits, overweight and stress) and short-term sickness absence were analysed by calculating
etiologic fractions and binary logistic regression. Relations between the number of risk factors and
short-term sickness absence were also analysed. Finally, the cost of short-term sickness absence
from risk factors was estimated to illustrate the potential savings in avoided loss of productivity that
could be gained from intervention programmes.
Results: Stress, overweight, smoking and dyssomnia are significantly related to short-term sickness
absence. Etiologic fractions revealed that these factors were associated with between 29.8% and
37.8% of short-term sickness absence. The number of risk factors was also related to the risk and
length of sickness absence.
Conclusion: This study identified risk factors that could be addressed by intervention programmes
to reduce short-term sickness absence. Based on the results, focus on the risk factors that account
for most of short-term sickness absence and reduction of the number of risk factors could
potentially reduce short-term sickness absence. A 30% reduction is equivalent to an avoidance of a
loss of productivity of 4.5%, corresponding to 9.4 million Euros per year.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Public Health
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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