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Recurrent pain and work disability: a record linkage study.

  • Lallukka, Tea1, 2
  • Hiilamo, Aapo3
  • Oakman, Jodi4
  • Mänty, Minna5, 6
  • Pietiläinen, Olli5
  • Rahkonen, Ossi5
  • Kouvonen, Anne7, 8, 9
  • Halonen, Jaana I3, 10
  • 1 Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland. [email protected] , (Finland)
  • 2 Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland. [email protected] , (Finland)
  • 3 Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland. , (Finland)
  • 4 Centre for Ergonomics, and Human Factors, School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. , (Australia)
  • 5 Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland. , (Finland)
  • 6 , City of Vantaa, Finland. , (Finland)
  • 7 Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland. , (Finland)
  • 8 Research Institute of Psychology, SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Wroclaw, Poland. , (Poland)
  • 9 Administrative Data Research Centre-Northern Ireland (ADRC-NI), Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK. , (Ireland)
  • 10 Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland. , (Finland)
Published Article
International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Publication Date
Nov 28, 2019
DOI: 10.1007/s00420-019-01494-5
PMID: 31781902


We examined the associations between recurrent single- and multisite pain and incident sickness absence (SA) of different lengths and the risk of disability pension (DP). The data were derived from the Finnish Helsinki Health Study. Pain measures were recorded for panel 1 in 2000/2 and 2007, and for panel 2 in 2007 and 2012 (altogether 3191 employees). SA data were obtained from the employer's personnel register and DP events from the Finnish Centre for Pensions. Negative binomial regression models with generalized estimation equations were used to model the incidence of self-certified short- (1-3 days), and medically certified medium- (4-14 days) and long-term (more than 14 days) SA episodes. Cox regression models were fitted for the associations between pain and all-cause DP and competing risk models for DP by diagnostic groups. Social and health-related covariates were adjusted for. Recurrent pain was associated with short-, medium- and long-term SA. Additionally, recurrent single- and multisite pain increased the risk of long-term SA. Recurrent single or multisite pain was further associated with an increased risk of DP, while a single instance of pain did not increase the risk. These results suggest that recurrent pain is a robust determinant of subsequent SA and DP risk. Improved understanding of determinants of recurrent pain is needed to inform the development of targeted measures to reduce SA and premature exit from employment.

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