UCL Discovery
UCL home » Library Services » Electronic resources » UCL Discovery

Sickness absence as a global measure of health: evidence from mortality in the Whitehall II prospective cohort study

Kivimaki, M.; Head, J.; Ferrie, J.E.; Shipley, M.J.; Vahtera, J.; Marmot, M.G.; (2003) Sickness absence as a global measure of health: evidence from mortality in the Whitehall II prospective cohort study. BMJ , 327 (7411) pp.364 - 368. Green open access

[img]
Preview
PDF
364.pdf

Download (106kB)

Abstract

Objective: To examine the association between sickness absence and mortality compared with associations between established health indicators and mortality. Design: Prospective cohort study. Medical examination and questionnaire survey conducted in 1985-8; sickness absence records covered the period 1985-98. Setting: 20 civil service departments in London. Participants: 6895 male and 3413 female civil servants aged 35-55 years. Main outcome measure: All cause mortality until the end of 1999. Results: After adjustment for age and grade, men and women who had more than five medically certified absences (spells greater than 7 days) per 10 years had a mortality 4.8 (95% confidence interval 3.3 to 6.9) and 2.7 (1.5 to 4.9) times greater than those with no such absence. Poor self rated health, presence of longstanding illness, and a measure of common clinical conditions comprising diabetes, diagnosed heart disease, abnormalities on electrocardiogram, hypertension, and respiratory illness were all associated with mortality-relative rates between 1.3 and 1.9. In a multivariate model including all the above health indicators and additional health risk factors, medically certified sickness absence remained a significant predictor of mortality. No linear association existed between self certified absence (spells 1-7 days) and mortality, but the findings suggest that a small amount of self certified absence is protective. Conclusion: Evidence linking sickness absence to mortality indicates that routinely collected sickness absence data could be used as a global measure of health differentials between employees. However, such approaches should focus on medically certified (or long term) absences rather than self certified absences.

Type: Article
Title: Sickness absence as a global measure of health: evidence from mortality in the Whitehall II prospective cohort study
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/reprint/327/7411/36...
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1983
Downloads since deposit
285Downloads
Download activity - last month
Download activity - last 12 months
Downloads by country - last 12 months

Archive Staff Only

View Item View Item