Health, Work and Wellbeing Network

Bringing together people interested in health, work and wellbeing research

Researchers: Irene Jensen and Gunnar Berström, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Dept. of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm.

Funders: Various public research funders and major employers

Aims: The overall goal of this research programme is to generate useful knowledge about how good health in working life can be achieved and sustained. This involves increasing knowledge about measures that can promote the ability of working people to continue a productive professional career to retirement age with the best possible health and quality of life.

Design: Both preventive as well as rehabilitative measures have been developed on an individual and an organisational level for the following diagnoses: back and neck pain; heart disease, pulmonary disease, and mental fatigue/depression. These are the most common reasons for sick leave and disability pensions in Sweden. Comprehensive prospective, longitudinal studies are conducted both on an individual and organisational level and in close cooperation with major employers in the public and private sectors. The underpinning rationale for the design stems from the drastic increase in sick leave and disability pensions in recent years and the fact that sick leave varies considerably among employers, among different age groups, between women and men, and geographically. The scientific knowledge base regarding sick leave is meagre on both causes and preventive and rehabilitative measures. Interventions are often targeted towards the individual, but an organisational perspective is also required to meet these complex problems. For these reasons, more comprehensive models applicable to entire workplaces need to be developed and tested.