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

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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).

Conclusions

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.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Thomas Clausen.

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Clausen, T., Kristiansen, J., Hansen, J.V. et al. Exposure to disturbing noise and risk of long-term sickness absence among office workers: a prospective analysis of register-based outcomes. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 86, 729–734 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-012-0810-4

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Keywords

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