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Lack of Adjustment Latitude at Work as a Trigger of Taking Sick Leave: A Swedish Case-Crossover Study
Karolinska Institute, Sweden.
Uppsala University, Sweden.
Karolinska Institute, Sweden.
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Work and Rehabilitation. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
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2013 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 8, no 4Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


Research has shown that individuals reporting a low level of adjustment latitude, defined as having few possibilities to temporarily adjust work demands to illness, have a higher risk of sick leave. To what extent lack of adjustment latitude influences the individual when making the decision to take sick leave is unknown. We hypothesize that ill individuals are more likely to take sick leave on days when they experience a lack of adjustment latitude at work than on days with access to adjustment latitude.


A case-crossover design was applied to 546 sick-leave spells, extracted from a cohort of 1 430 employees at six Swedish workplaces, with a 3–12 month follow-up of all new sick-leave spells. Exposure to lack of adjustment latitude on the first sick-leave day was compared with exposure during several types of control periods sampled from the previous two months for the same individual.


Only 35% of the respondents reported variations in access to adjustment latitude, and 19% reported a constant lack of adjustment latitude during the two weeks prior to the sick-leave spell. Among those that did report variation, the risk of sick leave was lower on days with lack of adjustment latitude, than on days with access (Odds Ratio 0.36, 95% Confidence Interval 0.25–0.52).


This is the first study to show the influence of adjustment latitude on the decision to take sick leave. Among those with variations in exposure, lack of adjustment latitude was a deterrent of sick leave, which is contrary to the à priori hypothesis. These results indicate that adjustment latitude may not only capture long-lasting effects of a flexible working environment, but also temporary possibilities to adjust work to being absent. Further studies are needed to disentangle the causal mechanisms of adjustment latitude on sick-leave.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Public Library of Science , 2013. Vol. 8, no 4
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-93395DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0061830ISI: 000317909500072OAI: diva2:624488

Funding Agencies|Karolinska Institutet||Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research||Swedish Research Council||Stockholm County Council||National Swedish Social Insurance Board||Swedish National Institute of Public Health||

Available from: 2013-05-31 Created: 2013-05-31 Last updated: 2017-12-06

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