More Job Demands Can Mean More Sick Days
Employees with high job demands and high job strain are more prone to mental disorders and resulting in increased absence and sick leave according to a study in the August Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Lisa Mater, MMSc, of Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, and colleagues used data collected from a Swedish national twin study. The study followed 12 thousand workers for five years, and examined how the rate of sick leave due to mental disorders was related to job stress. The study concluded that mental disorder-related sick leave incidents made up about eight percent of the total sick leave, and that 75 percent of the workers who took the mental disorder-related sick leave were women.
Unhealthy Behaviors Equal Poor Attendance
Workers with high job demands were at a higher risk of sick leave due to mental disorders. Workers with job strain — which can be defined as high job demand with low job control and “iso-strain, which can be defined as high demands, low control and lack of social support — were more likely to take sick leave. Drinking alcohol was not a risk factor, but smoking was. A physically active lifestyle was a protective factor. Familial factors did not seem to contribute to sick leave incidents related to low job support and smoking.
Mental Disorders Are Common and Costly for the Workplace
Mental disorders are the most common reason for sick leave in Sweden. The study adds to the pile of evidence that psychosocial conditions at work affect rates of mental health sick leave.
“Interventions to reduce sick leave due to mental disorders that focus on improving the psychosocial work environment, especially reducing high psychosocial job demands, may prove effective,” Lisa Matters and co-authors wrote. They added that efforts to improve healthy behaviors that don’t take work environment into consideration may be less likely to reduce mental health sick leave.
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