Impact of workplace conflicts on self-reported medically certified sickness absence in Latvia

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Abstract

Sickness absence is one of the most important working population health indicators. It is a complex phenomenon that is investigated by health care and occupational health specialists, economists, and work psychologists. Sickness absence is used as a predictor for morbidity and mortality, but besides the health status of an individual, sickness absence is influenced by demographic, socio-economic factors, and work environment factors. Conflicts at work are a common psychosocial risk factor that can affect sickness absence. The aim of the study was to investigate the association between different types of workplace conflict and self-reported medically certified sickness absence using cross-sectional survey data pooled from four periodic national surveys—Work conditions and risks in Latvia (2006–2018). The sample is representative of the working population of Latvia, as respondents were randomly drawn from different regions and industries. In total, the study sample (n = 8557) consisted of employees between 16 and 80 years old (average 42.8 +/− 12.6) of which 46.2% were males and 53.8% were females. Researchers used the computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) method for collecting data. The association between workplace conflicts and sickness absence was analysed by using binomial logistic regression and calculated as odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI), with adjustment for gender, age, education and survey year. The risk of sickness absence was higher among women (OR = 1.24, CI 1.13–1.35), employees aged 25–44 years old and employees with higher income. Controlling for socio-demographic factors and survey year, the odds of sickness absence increased significantly for all types of workplace conflict analysed. The strongest association with sickness absence was related to conflicts between managers and employees (OR = 1.51, CI 1.37–1.66) and conflicts between groups of employees (OR = 1.45, CI 1.31–1.61). Conflicts between employees and with customers also increased the odds of sickness absence (OR = 1.39, CI 1.27–1.52 and OR = 1.11, CI 1.01–1.23, respectively). Our findings suggest that tailored interventions at a company level for reducing workplace conflicts as risk factors of sickness absence are required. Those should focus on the improvement of managers’ leadership and human resource management skills.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1193
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

Keywords

  • Conflicts at work
  • Labour absenteeism
  • Psychosocial risk factors
  • Sick leave
  • Sickness absence
  • Stress at work

Field of Science

  • 3.3 Health sciences

Publication Type

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database

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