Open Access Research article

Sense of coherence and attrition during four-year follow-up in cohorts of permanent and non-permanent Finnish employees

Virpi Liukkonen1*, Pekka Virtanen1, Mika Kivimäki2, Jaana Pentti3 and Jussi Vahtera3

Author Affiliations

1 Tampere School of Public Health, FIN-33014 University of Tampere, Finland

2 Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, 1-19 Torrington Place, London, WC1E 6BT, UK

3 Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Hämeenkatu 10, FIN-20500 Turku, Finland

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:88  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-88

Published: 13 March 2008



We studied whether health resources, measured as sense of coherence (SOC), are associated with participation in a follow-up survey among permanent and non-permanent employees who responded at baseline.


Of a cohort of 5,981 permanent employees, those who after four years were still in the service of the same employer were asked to participate in a follow-up survey. Another cohort consisted of 2,194 fixed-term and 682 subsidised employees; among these the follow-up survey was posted to those whose addresses were found in the population register. Non-participation was divided into loss to follow-up (i.e., failure to locate the individual, death and, among permanent employees, turnover or exit from labour market) and non-response to the follow-up survey. Logistic regression analyses were used to examine whether the respondents differed from the non-respondents with respect to SOC and other characteristics at baseline.


Among permanent employees the follow-up survey yielded 3,998 respondents, 1,051 were lost, and 932 did not reply. Among non-permanent employees the follow-up survey yielded 1,563 respondents on initially fixed-term and 467 on subsidised contracts, the corresponding figures for those lost were 145 and 38, and for the non-respondents 486 and 177. Low SOC was associated with lower response rate among fixed-term but not among permanent or subsidised employees. No association was found between SOC and loss to follow-up.


SOC is a potential source of non-random sample attrition and should be taken into account for when estimating bias due to non-participation in occupational cohorts that include fixed-term employees.