University of Oulu

Halonen, J. I., Lallukka, T., Kujanpää, T., Lahti, J., Kanerva, N., Pietiläinen, O., Rahkonen, O., Lahelma, E., & Mänty, M. (2021). The contribution of physical working conditions to sickness absence of varying length among employees with and without common mental disorders. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 49(2), 141–148.

The contribution of physical working conditions to sickness absence of varying length among employees with and without common mental disorders

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Author: Halonen, Jaana I.1,2; Lallukka, Tea1,2; Kujanpää, Tero3;
Organizations: 1Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland
3Center for Life Course Health Research, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: SAGE Publications, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-12-27


Aims: The aim was to examine whether the contribution of physical work exposures to the risk of sickness absence (SA) is different between those with and without common mental disorders (CMD).

Methods: We used questionnaire data on four work exposures and CMD from 6159 participants of the Helsinki Health Study cohort with 12,458 observations from three surveys (2000–2002, 2007 and 2012). We formed combination exposures for the work exposures (hazardous exposures, physical workload, computer and shift work) with CMD. Associations with SA of different length were examined with negative binomial regression models.

Results: We observed stronger associations for CMD with SA than for the individual work exposures. The strength of the associations for hazardous exposures and physical workload increased with length of SA, especially when the participant also had CMD. The strongest associations for the combined exposures were observed for SA ⩾15 days, the rate ratios being 2.63 (95% CI 2.27–3.05) among those with hazardous exposure and CMD, and 3.37 (95% CI 2.93−3.88) among those with heavy physical workload and CMD.

Conclusions: Employees with hazardous exposures or physical workload combined with CMD were at the highest risk of SA compared with those without these exposures or with only one exposure.

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Series: Scandinavian journal of public health
ISSN: 1403-4948
ISSN-E: 1651-1905
ISSN-L: 1403-4948
Volume: 49
Issue: 2
Pages: 141 - 148
DOI: 10.1177/1403494820901411
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
Funding: The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This study was supported by the Juho Vainio Foundation (for MM and OR), The Finnish Work Environment Fund (grant #117308 for TL) and Academy of Finland (grant numbers #287488 and #319200 for TL and JIH, and #1294514 for OR). The funders had no role in the data collection, analysis or writing of the paper.
Copyright information: © Author(s) 2020. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (