Global measure of satisfaction with psychosocial work conditions versus measures of specific aspects of psychosocial work conditions in explaining sickness absence

Blank, Patricia R.; Schwenkglenks, Matthias; Szucs, Thomas D.
January 2008
BMC Public Health;2008, Vol. 8, p270
Academic Journal
Background: Attempts to identify particular aspects of psychosocial work conditions as predictors of sickness absence remain inconclusive. A global measure has previously been suggested to be an efficient way to measure psychosocial work conditions in questionnaires. This paper investigates whether satisfaction with specific aspects of psychosocial work conditions explains sickness absence beyond its association with a global measure of psychosocial work conditions. Methods: The participants were 13,437 employees from 698 public service workplaces in Aarhus County, Denmark. 33 items from a questionnaire fell in groupings around six aspects of psychosocial work conditions: skill discretion, professionalism, management, decision authority, workload and cooperation. A global measure rating satisfaction with psychosocial work conditions on a scale from 0 to 10 was also included in the questionnaire. Individual ratings were aggregated to workplace scores. Analysis of variance and multiple linear regression was used to compare the average number of days of yearly sickness absence with different levels of satisfaction with six aspects of psychosocial work conditions. The covariates included were gender, age, occupation, size of workplace, contact to hospital, civil status and children below 13 living at home. Results: Dissatisfaction with each of the six aspects of psychosocial work conditions was associated with an increase in sickness absence. When all aspects were simultaneously included in the model, only skill discretion and professionalism were negatively associated with sickness absence. When a global measure of satisfaction with psychosocial work conditions was also included in the model none of the specific aspects showed a statistically significant association with sickness absence. Conclusion: Low global satisfaction with psychosocial work conditions is associated with increased levels of sickness absence. Including specific aspects of psychosocial work conditions in the model does not provide further information regarding the nature of this association.


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