Risk factors for sickness absence among Estonian employees

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During the last decade, sickness absence rates in Estonia have reached the level of Nordic countries. This places Estonia in a group of countries with the highest absence rate in the European Union. Unlike Nordic countries, factors associated with sickness absence have not been studied in Estonia.


To investigate which work-related, individual and health factors, other than current illness, influence sickness absence among Estonian paid employees.


The study population consisted of 2941 employees who completed an Estonian Health Interview Survey conducted in 2006. Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed to explore associations between individual, health and work-related factors and recent sickness absence.


Sickness absence was significantly associated with poor self-rated general health (OR = 1.82; 95% CI = 1.34–2.48), presence of chronic disease (OR = 1.66; 95% CI = 1.21–2.27), lower education (OR = 1.59; 95% CI = 1.20–2.12) and job dissatisfaction (OR = 1.74, 95% CI = 1.23–2.26) in the final multivariate model after adjustment for age and gender


Most sickness absence risk factors revealed by previous studies were only moderately associated with sickness absence in the Estonian working population. In contrast to Nordic countries, there was no gender difference or age gradient. Among workplace risk factors, job dissatisfaction was most strongly associated with sickness absence.

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