The role of poor sleep in the relation between workplace bullying/unwanted sexual attention and long‑term sickness absence

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Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen, Matias Brødsgaard Grynderup, Theis Lange, Johan Hviid Andersen, Jens Peter Bonde, Paul Maurice Conway, Anne Helene Garde, Annie Høgh (Hogh), Linda Kaerlev, Reiner Ernst Rugulies, Åse Marie Hansen

Purpose While exposure to bullying and unwanted sexual attention was previously found to increase the risk of sickness absence, the underlying mechanisms are largely unknown. Poor sleep can be a consequence of stressful exposures and a cause of poor health, and poor sleep is also a determinant of insufficient recovery. Therefore, the present study investigated whether poor sleep mediates and/or moderates the association between bullying and unwanted sexual attention, on the one hand, and long-term sickness absence (LTSA), on the other hand. Methods We used questionnaire data from 7650 individuals contributing with 15,040 2-year observation periods. Workplace bullying, unwanted sexual attention, disturbed sleep, and difficulties awakening were measured at three time points, and participants were followed in registers to measure the occurrence of LTSA, defined as ≥30 consecutive days of sickness absence during the subsequent 2 years. Results The odds of LTSA were significantly increased
by workplace bullying (OR 1.77; 95 % CI 1.50–2.12) and unwanted sexual attention (OR 1.55; 95 % CI 1.06–2.29). Together, disturbed sleep and difficulties awakening mediated 12.8 % (95 % CI 8.1–19.8) of the association between bullying and long-term sickness absence, and 8.5 % (95 % CI −0.45 to 37.1) of the association between unwanted sexual attention and long-term sickness absence in the fully adjusted model. Neither disturbed sleep nor difficulties awakening moderated these associations. Conclusion As expected, bullying and unwanted sexual attention were prospectively associated with long-term sickness absence.Only a small part of this association was mediated by poor sleep.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Volume89
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)967–979
ISSN0340-0131
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

ID: 162317177