Explaining social patterns in sickness absence: the influence of values, attitudes and norms
Reducing sickness absence (SA), in particular long-term SA, is high on the political agenda, and by extension, finding the causes or mechanisms that lead to SA. Research on risk factors for SA indicate working conditions, family situation, and health status as core determinants. However, findings on the effects of different factors are far from conclusive. There remains a large “unexplained” element for SA. Despite recognition in the scientific literature that values, attitudes and norms likely contribute to variations in SA, empirical research on this topic is still relatively scarce. The project aims to fill this knowledge gap by studying the influence of values, attitudes and norms on SA, more particularly, their role in creating social patterns in SA.
The project will utilize large-scale longitudinal survey data in combination with longitudinal register data, enabling us to apply a multidimensional and dynamic approach to the study of the interaction between values and attitudes with health, work and family factors in relation to SA in different social groups. The project is also innovative in that we will conduct a vignette study with a survey experiment that will help us to analyze potential differences in norms concerning men and women’s use of SA.
Key research questions will be 1) to what extent attitudes towards SA vary across gender, age, socioeconomic position and place of residence, 2) which individual attitudes and values predict subsequent SA and to what extent this impact differs across social groups, 3) to what extent values and attitudes can help explain differences in the use of SA across social groups, alongside other explanatory variables such as health status, work situation and family situation, 4) to what extent individuals’ values and attitudes moderate the relationship between health status, work situation and family situation, and SA, and 5) to what extent we find different norms for the use of SA for men and women.