Exposure to disturbing noise and risk of long-term sickness absence among office workers: a prospective analysis of register-based outcomes

  • Thomas Clausen
  • Jesper Kristiansen
  • Jørgen Vinsløv Hansen
  • Jan Hyld Pejtersen
  • Hermann Burr
Original Article



To investigate the association between self-reported exposure to disturbing noise and risk of long-term sickness absence (LTSA) for more than two consecutive weeks among office workers.


LTSA was measured using register data that were linked to survey data from 2,883 office workers aged 18–59 who were surveyed in 2005 on exposure to disturbing noise. The risk of LTSA was investigated using Cox proportional hazards model.


Of the study population, 4.4 % had LTSA in the 1-year follow-up period. Compared to office workers who were ‘rarely or never’ exposed to disturbing noise at work, office workers who reported being ‘frequently’ exposed to disturbing noise had a significantly increased estimated risk of LTSA when adjusting for age, gender, smoking status, and managerial position (HR = 1.90; 95 % CI, 1.12–3.22). After additional adjustment for psychosocial work conditions, the estimated risk of LTSA for office workers who were frequently exposed to disturbing noise became marginally insignificant (HR = 1.73; 95 % CI, 0.99–3.01). A subgroup analysis showed that women who reported being frequently exposed to disturbing noise had a significantly increased estimated risk of LTSA (HR = 1.94; 95 % CI, 1.04–3.64), whereas the corresponding risk for men was insignificant (HR = 1.28; 95 % CI, 0.37–4.41).


This study indicates that frequent self-reported exposure to disturbing noise at work is associated with increased risk of LTSA among office workers and that this association may be stronger for women than for men.


Noise Sickness absence Office workers DREAM register DWECS Epidemiology Longitudinal analysis Work environment 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Clausen
    • 1
  • Jesper Kristiansen
    • 1
  • Jørgen Vinsløv Hansen
    • 1
  • Jan Hyld Pejtersen
    • 2
  • Hermann Burr
    • 3
  1. 1.National Research Centre for the Working EnvironmentCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.The Danish National Centre for Social ResearchCopenhagenDenmark
  3. 3.Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA)BerlinGermany

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