Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health Online-first -article    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.4054 | Published online: 26 Aug 2022

Working life expectancy and working years lost among users of part- and full-time sickness absence in Finland

by Hartikainen E, Solovieva S, Viikari-Juntura E, Leinonen T

Objectives The use of part-time sickness absence (pSA) instead of full-time sickness absence (fSA) is known to increase work participation. Yet, its effect on the total length of working lives remains unclear. We carried out a quasi-experiment to assess the impact of using pSA versus fSA on the length of working lives.

Methods We used a register-based 70% random sample of the working-age population living in Finland on 31 December 2007 to (i) form propensity-score-matched groups of users of pSA and fSA and (ii) calculate their working life expectancy (WLE) and working years lost (WYL). We applied the Sullivan method based on daily measured time spent at work and other labor market statuses, followed up over a four-year period until the end of year 2017. The study population consisted of private and public sector employees with SA due to mental and musculoskeletal disorders, ie, the diagnostic groups where pSA has been primarily used.

Results Among both genders, the pSA group had a significantly higher WLE at age 30 than the fSA group, with larger differences seen in mental disorders compared to musculoskeletal diseases and in the private versus public sector. Overall, the pSA group had fewer WYL due to unemployment and disability retirement but more expected years working with partial disability benefits than the fSA group.

Conclusions Based on beneficial working career effects, the use of pSA instead of fSA should always be recommended for persons with mental or musculoskeletal disorders where feasible.

This article refers to the following texts of the Journal: 2008;34(4):239-249  2016;42(4):273-279  2017;43(5):447-456  2013;39(1):37-45
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