Does workplace social capital protect against long-term sickness absence? Linking workplace aggregated social capital to sickness absence registry data

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Aims: Most previous prospective studies have examined workplace social capital as a resource of the individual. However, literature suggests that social capital is a collective good. In the present study we examined whether a high level of workplace aggregated social capital (WASC) predicts a decreased risk of individual-level long-term sickness absence (LTSA) in Danish private sector employees. Methods: A sample of 2043 employees (aged 18–64 years, 38.5% women) from 260 Danish private-sector companies filled in a questionnaire on workplace social capital and covariates. WASC was calculated by assigning the company-averaged social capital score to all employees of each company. We derived LTSA, defined as sickness absence of more than three weeks, from a national register. We examined if WASC predicted employee LTSA using multilevel survival analyses, while excluding participants with LTSA in the three months preceding baseline. Results: We found no statistically significant association in any of the analyses. The hazard ratio for LTSA in the fully adjusted model was 0.93 (95% CI 0.77–1.13) per one standard deviation increase in WASC. When using WASC as a categorical exposure we found a statistically non-significant tendency towards a decreased risk of LTSA in employees with medium WASC (fully adjusted model: HR 0.78 (95% CI 0.48–1.27)). Post hoc analyses with workplace social capital as a resource of the individual showed similar results. Conclusions: WASC did not predict LTSA in this sample of Danish private-sector employees.

Original languageEnglish
Book seriesScandinavian Journal of Public Health
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)290-296
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • epidemiology, justice, multilevel analysis, occupational health, private sector, psychosocial, sick leave, Social capital, trust, workplace

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ID: 197961938