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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111


TORA-ROCAMORA, Isabel et al. Assessment of the magnitude of geographical variations in the duration of non-work-related sickness absence by individual and contextual factors. Gac Sanit [online]. 2015, vol.29, n.3, pp.164-171. ISSN 0213-9111.

Objective: To examine variation in the duration of non-work-related sickness absence (NWRSA) across geographical areas and the degree to which this variation can be explained by individual and/or contextual factors. Methods: All first NWRSA episodes ending in 2007 and 2010 were analyzed. Individual (diagnosis, age, sex) and contextual factors (healthcare resources, socioeconomic factors) were analyzed to assess how much of the geographical variation was explained by these factors. Median NWRSA durations in quartiles were mapped by counties in Catalonia. Multilevel Cox proportional hazard regression models with episodes nested within counties were fitted to quantify the magnitude of this variation. The proportional change in variance (PCV), median hazard ratios (MHR) and interquartile hazard ratios (IHR) were calculated. Results: We found a geographical pattern in the duration of NWRSA, with longer duration in northwestern Catalonia. There was a small, but statistically significant, geographical variation in the duration of NWRSA, which mostly decreased after adjustment for individual factors in both women (PCV = 34.98%, MHR = 1.09, IHR = 1.13 in 2007; PCV = 34.68%, MHR = 1.11, IHR = 1.28 in 2010) and men (PCV = 39.88%, MHR = 1.10, IHR = 1.27 in 2007; PCV = 45.93%, MHR = 1.10, IHR = 1.25 in 2010); only in the case of women in 2010 was there a reduction in county-level variance due to contextual covariates (PCV = 16.18%, MHR = 1.12, IHR = 1.32). Conclusions: County-level variation in the duration of NWRSA was small and was explained more by individual than by contextual variables. Knowledge of geographic differences in NWRSA duration is needed to plan specific programs and interventions to minimize these differences.

Keywords : Sick leave; Occupational health; Biological characteristics; Social characteristics; Multilevel analysis.

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