The impact of stress and life style factors on short-term sickness absence in a large Danish industrial company

Niss Skov Nielsen*, Lars Gunnarsen, Kim Iburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
156 Downloads (Pure)


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.
Conclusion: 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 of 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 Euros per year.
Translated title of the contributionbetydning af stress og livsstilsfaktorer for korttidssygefravær i en stor dansk industrivirksomhed
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Public Health
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)204-214
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

© Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:


  • Intervention
  • Lifestyle
  • Risk factor
  • Stress
  • Sickness absence
  • Workplace


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