Unhealthy lifestyle and sleep problems as risk factors for increased direct employers' cost of short-term sickness absence

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Objectives Unhealthy lifestyle (eg, smoking) as well as sleep problems are associated with increased risk of sickness absence, but the financial impact of these associations beyond risk ratios is not well known. We aimed to estimate the additive contribution of lifestyle and sleep problems (risk factors) to direct costs of short-term (

Methods The Helsinki Health Study is a longitudinal cohort of employees of the City of Helsinki, Finland (N=8960, response rate 67%). During 2000-2002 the participants were mailed a survey questionnaire that gathered information on their lifestyle and sleep. A sum of the risk factors was calculated: participants received one point for being a smoker; high alcohol user (>7 servings/week for women and >14 servings/week for men); physically inactive [

Results Direct costs of short-term sickness absences were on average (sic)9057 (standard deviation (sic)11 858) per employee over the follow-up. Those with >= 3 risk factors had (sic)3266 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) (sic)2114-4417] higher direct costs for the employer over the follow-up compared to those without any risk factors.

Conclusions Unhealthy lifestyle and sleep problems may increase the costs of short-term sickness absence to the employer by 10-30%. Consequently, programs addressing lifestyle and sleep may deliver significant savings.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)192-201
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
  • alcohol
  • fruit
  • Helsinki Health Study
  • insomnia symptom
  • physical activity
  • sick leave
  • sleep duration
  • smoking
  • vegetable
  • WORK
  • TIME

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