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Can work-unit social capital buffer the association between workplace violence and long-term sickness absence? A prospective cohort study of healthcare employees

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  • Eszter Török
  • Naja Hulvej Rod
  • Annette Kjær Ersbøll
  • Johan Høy Jensen
  • Reiner Rugulies
  • Alice Jessie Clark
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PURPOSE: To determine the prospective relation between workplace violence and the risk of long-term sickness absence (LTSA), and study if work-unit social capital could buffer this effect. As an explorative analysis, the association between work-unit social capital and workplace violence is also tested.

METHODS: The study is based on the Well-being in HospitAL Employees (WHALE) cohort, including healthcare employees in Denmark. The study sample consisted of 30,044 employees nested within 2304 work-units. Exposure to workplace violence and threats of violence during the past 12 months was measured by self-report. Work-unit social capital was computed by aggregating the mean individual responses within work-units. LTSA was defined as one or more episodes of ≥ 29 consecutive sickness absence days initiated within 2 years following baseline.

RESULTS: Employees experiencing workplace violence had a higher risk of LTSA (OR = 1.55; 95% CI 1.39-1.72), but there was no evidence in support of work-unit social capital buffering the effect of workplace violence on LTSA (RERI = 0.24; 95%CI: - 0.36 to 0.84; p = 0.12 for multiplicative interaction). High compared to low work-unit social capital was associated with a lower prevalence of workplace violence (OR = 0.47; 95% CI 0.36-0.61).

CONCLUSION: There was a prospective association between workplace violence and LTSA, but work-unit social capital did not buffer this effect. Furthermore, the results revealed an inverse association between work-unit social capital and workplace violence. The findings indicate that in order to effectively reduce LTSA, preventive interventions need to both prevent workplace violence and strengthen social capital.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Volume93
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)355–364
Number of pages10
ISSN0340-0131
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

ID: 58626885