Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1995;21(3):191-198    pdf


Pregnancy-related sickness absence among employed women in a Swedish county

by Alexanderson K, Hensing G, Carstensen J, Bjurulf P

Objectives The objective of this study was to analyze the variation of pregnancy-related sickness absence among employed women according to age, occupation and degree of male-female domination within occupations.

Methods Data from a prospective study of all new sick-leave spells exceeding 7 d in 1985 and 1986 in the county of Östergötland, Sweden, were related to the population at risk, through the Swedish Medical Birth Register. The subjects included in the analysis were all 7000 employed women that gave birth in 1985 and 1986, of which some 3000 were sick-listed at least once with pregnancy-related diagnoses.

Results There was little difference in the pregnancy-related sickness absence between the age groups. The age-standardized rate for sick leaves involving pregnancy-related diagnoses differed substantially between occupations. Women in the metal industry had the highest rates; those employed in administration, banking, and insurance had the lowest. White-collar occupations generally had lower rates and blue-collar occupations higher rates, with some exceptions (eg, in saw mills, farming, and the chemical industry). Gender-integrated occupations had the lowest sick-leave rate, while extremely male-dominated jobs had the highest. The latter association remained after adjustment for occupational area.

Conclusion There were considerable differences between occupational groups in the rates of sick leaves involving pregnancy-related diagnoses. Some differences were related to physical load of the jobs being done, but not all. It seems important to consider also male-female domination within a job with respect to such sick leaves.

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