[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 22-Mar-2011
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Contact: Dr Hilary Glover
hilary.glover@biomedcentral.com
44-020-319-22370
BioMed Central

Can non-medical factors trigger sick leave?

According to UK government statistics over 8 million working days per year are lost due to illness and about a third of these are due to minor ailments such as coughs, colds, sickness and diarrhea. Yet two individuals who are equally ill do not necessarily both report sick. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Public Health shows that conflicts and stress at work can trigger taking sick leave.

A Swedish study interviewed more than 400 individuals, who worked at six different workplaces, including health care workers, office staff and people in the manufacturing industry, within a few days of them taking sick leave. The sociologist Hanna Hultin from the Karolinska Institutet explained, "When we compared aspects at work during the days just before the participants reported sick to other workdays, we found that problems in relationships with colleagues and superiors were more frequent in the days just before sick leave than on other days. We also found that individuals with a minor ailment were more likely to report sick when they expected that the following workday would be particularly stressful."

So it seems that the work environment does not only affect our health, but also our behavior when ill. Understanding stress in the workplace plays an important part in determining why sick-leave rates differ between individuals in ways that do not mirror differences in health.

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Notes to Editors

1. Work-related psychosocial events as triggers of sick leave – results from a Swedish case-crossover study
Hanna Hultin, Johan Hallqvist, Kristina Alexanderson, Gun Johansson, Christina Lindholm, Ingvar Lundberg, and Jette Möller
BMC Public Health
(in press)

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication.

2. BMC Public Health is an open access journal publishing original peer-reviewed research articles in the epidemiology of disease and the understanding of all aspects of public health. The journal has a special focus on the social determinants of health, the environmental, behavioral, and occupational correlates of health and disease, and the impact of health policies, practices and interventions on the community.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.



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