Multimorbidity is common among young workers and related to increased work absenteeism and presenteeism: results from the population-based Raine Study cohort

Sigrid A. Troelstra, Leon Straker, Mark Harris, Sarah Brown, Allard J. Allard J, Pieter Coenen

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives This study aimed to determine the extent of both multimorbidity and work productivity loss among young adults with paid work and to analyze their association. Methods We included 604 participants from a follow-up of the Raine Study that comprised a cohort who were 22 years at the time (Gen2-22). Information on 36 health conditions, grouped into 10 condition categories, was collected through questionnaires and physical assessments (for body mass index only). Quarterly questionnaires about work productivity, including total absenteeism, sickness absenteeism, and total presenteeism, were distributed electronically over the subsequent 12 months. Descriptive statistics were used to determine the prevalence of health conditions, condition categories, multimorbidity, and work productivity. Zero-inflated negative binomial regression analyses were used to assess the association of multimorbidity with productivity loss. Results Multimorbidity prevalence was substantially higher in females (63%) compared to males (41%). Productivity loss increased as the number of condition categories increased. For example, total absenteeism was associated with an increase in the number of health condition categories in males [incidence rate ratio (IRR) 1.20, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.05-1.36] and females (IRR 1.13, 95% CI 1.04-1.24). Similar results were found for sickness absenteeism and presenteeism. The highest burden of productivity loss was found for musculoskeletal disorders (42 444 hours/1000 workers/year), sleep problems (33 581 hours/1000 workers/year), mental and neurological conditions (15 650 hours/1000 workers/year), and 'other' medical conditions (22 519 hours/1000 workers/year). Conclusions Multimorbidity appears to be highly prevalent among young adults with paid work and is strongly related to work productivity loss. Therefore, young workers should be targeted in interventions aiming to reduce multimorbidity and its impact on work productivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-227
Number of pages10
JournalScandinavian journal of work, environment & health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • Sickness absence
  • Work productivity
  • Young adult

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