The impact of stress and lifestyle factors on short-term sickness absence in a large Danish industrial company
Objectives: Work-related stress and certain lifestyles have been associated with sickness absence among employees. We analysed relations between stress and lifestyles (as risk factors) and short-term sickness absence among employees of a large Danish industrial company. Moreover, we analysed the impact of risk factors on short-term sickness absence. Methods: A self-administered questionnaire was completed by 7753 employees (67% response rate). Relations between risk factors (dyssomnia, low physical activity, alcohol, smoking, unhealthy food habits, overweight and stress) and short-term sickness absence were analysed by calculating etiologic fractions and binary logistic regression. Relations between the number of risk factors and short-term sickness absence were also analysed. Finally, the cost of short-term sickness absence from risk factors was estimated to illustrate the potential savings in avoided loss of productivity that could be gained from intervention programmes. Results: Stress, overweight, smoking and dyssomnia are significantly related to short-term sickness absence. Etiologic fractions revealed that these factors were associated with between 29.8% and 37.8% of short-term sickness absence. The number of risk factors was also related to the risk and length of sickness absence. Conclusions: This study identified risk factors that could be addressed by intervention programmes to reduce short-term sickness absence. Based on the results, focus on the risk factors that account for most short-term sickness absence and reduction of the number of risk factors could potentially reduce short-term sickness absence. A 30% reduction is equivalent to an avoidance of a loss of productivity of 4.5%, corresponding to €9.4 million per year.