Open Access Open Badges Research article

Sick leave and the impact of job-to-job mobility on the likelihood of remaining on the labour market - a longitudinal Swedish register study

Karin Nordström1*, Kerstin Ekberg1, Tomas Hemmingsson23 and Gun Johansson2

Author Affiliations

1 National Centre for Work and Rehabilitation, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping 581 83, Sweden

2 Unit of Occupational medicine, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

3 Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:305  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-305

Published: 3 April 2014



Change of job could be a strategy in vocational rehabilitation when return to the original job is not possible, but research is very limited concerning the effects of job mobility on the future vocational situation. The aim of the study was to investigate whether job-to-job mobility affects the likelihood of remaining on the labour market over time among persons who are employed and have experienced long-term sick leave.


In a longitudinal register study, cohorts from three base years (1994, 1999 and 2004) were created, based on the Swedish population who were 20–60 years old, had sickness allowance insurance, and were employed in the base year and the following year (n > 3,000,000). The likelihood that individuals on long-term sick leave were employed later depending on whether or not they changed workplace during the present or next year of long-term sick leave was analyzed using logistic regression analysis. Age, sector, industry, children, marital status, education, income, rate of sick leave and earlier sick leave and earlier mobility were taken into consideration.


Women with more than 180 days’ sick leave who changed workplaces were more likely to have a job later compared with those who did not change jobs. For men, the association was statistically significant with 1994 and 2004 as base years, but not in the cohort from 1999.


The present study indicates that for those on long-term sick leave that changed workplaces, the opportunities to stay on the labour market might increase. However, the study has methodological limitations and the results for men are ambiguous. We do not therefore have enough evidence for recommending job change as a strategy for vocational rehabilitation.

Job-to-job mobility; Sick leave; Vocational situation