Mental disorders are a key cause of sickness absence (SA) and challenge prolonging working careers. Thus, evidence on the development of SA trends is needed. In this study, educational differences in long SAs due to mental disorders were examined in two age groups among employees of the City of Helsinki from 2004 to 2013.
All permanently and temporarily employed staff aged 18-34 and 35-49 were included in the analyses (n=~27800 per year). SA spells of =14 days due to mental disorders were examined annually. Education was classified to higher and lower levels. Joinpoint regression was used to identify major turning points in SA trends.
Joinpoint regression models showed that lower educated groups had more long SAs spells due to mental disorders than those groups with higher education. SA trends decreased during the study period in all studied age and educational groups. Lower educated age groups had similar SA trends. Younger employees with higher education had the fewest SAs.
A clear educational gradient was found in long SAs due to mental disorders during the study period. SA trends decreased from 2004 to 2013.
Young adults entering employment are a key group in extending work careers, but there is a lack of research on trends in work ability among young employees. Prolonged sickness absence (SA) constitutes a risk for permanent work disability. We examined 12-year trends in SA spells among young female and male municipal employees.
The data were obtained from the employers' registers in the City of Helsinki, Finland. The data included employees aged 18-24, 25-29, 30-34, and 35-54 from 2002 to 2013 (the average number for each year was 31,600). Self-certified (1-3 days) and medically certified intermediate (4-14 days) and long (15+ days) SAs were examined. Joinpoint regression models were used to identify major changes in SA trends.
Younger employees had more short SAs but fewer long SAs than older employees. During the study period, SAs of almost any length first increased and later decreased among both genders, except for young men. The turning points for short SA were in 2007-2011 among younger and older employees. In intermediate and long SAs the respective turning points were in 2008-2009 and 2005-2009. Women had more SAs in all categories.
Age is related to the length of absences. Given the relatively low chronic morbidity among younger employees, it is likely that reasons other than ill health account for increased SA. More evidence on factors behind the changing trends is needed in order to reduce SA and extend the working careers of young people.