Social Causes to Sickness Absence among Men and Women with Mental Illnesses


The mental ill-health diagnoses seem to be increasing in Europe and there are global trends towards increasing stress and ill-health at work. In order to understand the social situation for the sickness absentees it is important to consider how identities and relationships are formed in interaction with other people. Aims: 1) To reveal the absentees own perceptions and experiences of being on sick leave; 2) To understand and uncover the absentees’ own views of the causes of their illnesses. Methods: This study takes an exploratory approach, examining an area where there has been little data and building upon work that has focused on sickness absence as a phenomenon. It attempted to do so through a pragmatic synthesis of elements of ethnography and grounded theory. The main study concentrates on two main groups of diagnoses: musculoskeletal and mental problems. A sample of 30 persons on sickness absence was selected from the county of Oppland, Norway. 14 were diagnosed with musculoskeletal problems and 16 with mental illnesses. This paper deals with one main group; mental illnesses. Seven men and nine women from the county of Oppland, Norway were diagnosed with mental illnesses in accordance with the ICD-10 medical classification system (n = 16). Results: Women experience family burdens and caring responsibilities as social factors to their sickness absence, often due to a lack of support and constant burden from both work and home. Men experience stress and conflicts at work, mostly from the leadership and its organizational structure. Conclusion: A holistic approach that considers the whole life situation must also be considered in order to understand gender differences in sickness absence. Furthermore, to investigate what can be done to reduce long-term sickness absence that is not caused by traditional somatic or severe psychological disorders.

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Batt-Rawden, K. & Tellnes, G. (2012). Social Causes to Sickness Absence among Men and Women with Mental Illnesses. Psychology, 3, 315-321. doi: 10.4236/psych.2012.34045.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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