, Volume 86, Issue 6, pp 619-627,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

The role of lifestyle, health, and work in educational inequalities in sick leave and productivity loss at work

Abstract

Purpose

To investigate the influence of lifestyle, health, and work conditions in the association between education and productivity loss at work and sick leave.

Methods

Employees of six companies filled out a questionnaire on demographics, lifestyle-related, health, and work-related factors, and productivity loss at work and sick leave at baseline (n = 915) and after 1-year (n = 647).

Results

Employees with a low education were more likely to report productivity loss at work (OR = 1.49, 95 % CI 0.98–2.26) and sick leave (OR = 1.81, 95 % CI 1.15–2.85). After adjustment for lifestyle, health, and work conditions, the association between education and productivity loss at work did not attenuate. Work conditions attenuated the association between low education and sick leave (OR = 1.62, 95 % CI 1.01–2.61), and additional adjustment for health and lifestyle-related factors further reduced the strength of the association (OR = 1.42, 95 % CI 0.86–2.34).

Conclusion

Work conditions and lifestyle-related factors partly explained the association between education and sick leave, but did not influence the association between education and productivity loss at work. The educational differences in sick leave prompt for interventions that address behavioral aspects as well as work-related and lifestyle-related factors.