Open Access Research article

Sickness absence due to otoaudiological diagnoses; a descriptive nationwide study

Emilie Friberg1*, Ulf Rosenhall23 and Kristina Alexanderson1

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Insurance Medicine, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

2 Center for Hearing and Communication Research, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

3 Department of Audiology and Neurotology, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:635  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-635

Published: 8 July 2013

Abstract

Background

Hearing difficulties constitute a large public health problem. Knowledge about their consequences in terms of sickness absence due to otoaudiological diagnoses is very scarce. The aim of this study was to gain such knowledge. Both individuals with sick leave due to otoaudiological diagnoses and sick-leave spells due to these diagnoses were examined, in a nationwide setting.

Methods

Through Swedish nationwide registers we identified all 4768 individuals, aged 16–64 years and living in Sweden who were sickness absent due to otoaudiological diagnoses (ICD10; H60-H95) in 2005. We described the demographic characteristics of these individuals, as well as aspects regarding prevalence and duration of such sick-leave spells, in general and in four specific diagnosis groups; otological, hearing, vertigo, and tinnitus.

Results

Sick leave due to otoaudiological diagnoses was more common among women in all diagnosis groups except with tinnitus. Individuals with a hearing or tinnitus sick-leave diagnosis had a higher educational level and were hospitalized fewer days compared to those sickness absent due to vertigo or otological diagnoses. Particularly, sick-leave spells due to hearing or tinnitus diagnoses tended to be long, in many cases lasting the entire year. The majority of the individuals only had one sick-leave spell in 2005.

Conclusions

Although the actual number of individuals with a sick-leave spell due to specific otoaudiological diagnosis might not be considered high, the high prevalence of long sick-leave spells due to particularly hearing and tinnitus diagnoses indicates the importance of preventive and rehabilitative actions.

Keywords:
Otoaudiological diagnoses; Hearing difficulties; Sick leave