Students' school satisfaction as predictor of teachers' sickness absence: a prospective cohort study

Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland.
The European Journal of Public Health (Impact Factor: 2.46). 04/2011; 22(2):215-9. DOI: 10.1093/eurpub/ckr043
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Although health is an important determinant of sickness absence, social relationships at the workplace may also affect levels of sick leaves. This study examined whether students' self-assessed satisfaction with school predicted sickness absence among teachers in Finnish secondary schools.
We measured school satisfaction of 17 033 students aged 14-16 years from 90 schools by a survey (the School Health Promotion Study) and aggregated school-specific scores of students' school satisfaction. For analysis, we linked these school-level data to records of sickness absence in the survey year and the following year among 2364 teachers working in the same schools (the 10-Town Study). For sickness absence longer than 9 days, we obtained diagnoses from national health registers.
Multilevel Poisson and logistic regression models adjusted for relevant baseline covariates showed a rate ratio of 1.2 [95% confidence interval (95% CI): 1.0-1.5] for long-term (>3 days) sickness absence among teachers working in schools with two lowest thirds of student satisfaction compared with teachers in schools with high student satisfaction. The corresponding odds ratio (OR) was higher for sickness absence with a psychiatric diagnosis (OR 1.9, 95% CI: 1.1-3.2), more specifically, neurotic and stress-related disorders (OR 2.6, 95% CI: 1.2-5.9). Students' school satisfaction was not associated with teachers' short-term (1-3 days) sick leaves. Conclusions: These data suggest a link between social relationships at school, as indexed by students' school satisfaction, and teachers' sick leaves, with the strongest associations seen for absences with mental health diagnoses.

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