Changes in sick-leave diagnoses over eleven years in a cohort of young adults initially sick-listed due to low back, neck, or shoulder diagnoses
Karin Festin, Kristina Alexanderson
Objective: To study future general and diagnoses-specific sickness absence and disability pension among young adults who were initially on long-term sick-leave due to back, neck, or shoulder diagnoses.
Design: Eleven-year prospective cohort study.
Subjects: All 213 adults in a Swedish municipality who, in 1985, were in the age range 25–34 years and had begun a spell of sick-leave lasting ≥ 28 days with low back, neck, or shoulder diagnoses.
Methods: For the time-period 1985–96, data regarding the dates and diagnoses for all periods of sick-leave, and the dates of disability pension, emigration, and death were obtained. Numbers of days of sick-leave and disability pension were analysed separately for each of the 11 years in relation to the number of days at risk for such benefits.
Results: The cohort members were on sick-leave or disability pension for 25% of all days at risk during the 11 years of follow-up. A large difference in the number of sick-leave days between the 22% of subjects who were later granted disability pension and the others was already apparent during the first 2 years. During the entire period, up to 21% of the sick-leave days for women and 24% for men entailed psychiatric diagnoses.
Conclusion: This cohort of young adults, initially off sick for 4 weeks due to back, neck, or shoulder diagnoses, also had a high level of sickness absence in the subsequent 11 years with other diagnoses.