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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Work and family: associations with long-term sick-listing in Swedish women – a case-control study

Hélène Sandmark

Author Affiliations

Department of Public Health Sciences, Division of Occupational Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

Department of Health Sciences, Public Health Science, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden

BMC Public Health 2007, 7:287  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-287

Published: 11 October 2007

Abstract

Background

The number of Swedish women who are long-term sick-listed is high, and twice as high as for men. Also the periods of sickness absence have on average been longer for women than for men. The objective of this study was to investigate the associations between factors in work- and family life and long-term sick-listing in Swedish women.

Methods

This case-control study included 283 women on long-term sick-listing ≥90 days, and 250 female referents, randomly chosen, living in five counties in Sweden. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses with odds ratios were calculated to estimate the associations between long-term sick-listing and factors related to occupational work and family life.

Results

Long-term sick-listing in women is associated with self-reported lack of competence for work tasks (OR 2.42 1.23–11.21 log reg), workplace dissatisfaction (OR 1.89 1.14–6.62 log reg), physical workload above capacity (1.78 1.50–5.94), too high mental strain in work tasks (1.61 1.08–5.01 log reg), number of employers during work life (OR 1.39 1.35–4.03 log reg), earlier part-time work (OR 1.39 1.18–4.03 log reg), and lack of influence on working hours (OR 1.35 1.47–3.86 log reg). A younger age at first child, number of children, and main responsibility for own children was also found to be associated with long-term sick-listing. Almost all of the sick-listed women (93%) wanted to return to working life, and 54% reported they could work immediately if adjustments at work or part-time work were possible.

Conclusion

Factors in work and in family life could be important to consider to prevent women from being long-term sick-listed and promote their opportunities to remain in working life. Measures ought to be taken to improve their mobility in work life and control over decisions and actions regarding theirs lives.