Predicting long-term sickness absence and early retirement pension from self-reported work ability

  • Lea SellEmail author
Original Article



The aim of this paper is to examine the relationship between self-reported work ability and long-term term of sickness absence or early retirement from the labour market.


Data on work ability were retrieved from a representative cohort study of Danish wage earners and linked with a register of social payment transfers. In all, 4.743 individuals were followed from 2001 to 2005. Cox regression was used for the analyses.


A one point decrease in perceived work ability, on a 10 point scale, was associated with an increased risk of long-term sickness absence (LTSA) of 15.1% (95% CI 12–19%, P < 0.0001) and an increased risk of early retirement from the labour market of 33% (95% CI 20–48%, P < 0.0001).


Reports of reduced work ability were significantly associated with both an increased risk of onset of LTSA and early retirement from the labour market, after adjustment for socio-demographic characteristics and lifestyle variables.


Work ability Long-term sickness absence Early retirement pension Work environment Labour market 



We would like to thank Thomas Lund, Senior researcher, PhD in medical science, The Danish National Centre for Social Research, Herluf Trolles Gade 11, DK-1052 Copenhagen, for his pioneering work on the DWECS and DREAM-database. The study was supported by a grant from the Danish Working Environment Research Foundation and elaborated within the finale program for prevention of reduced work ability.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Research Centre for the Working EnvironmentCopenhagenDenmark

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