Prolongation of work careers and increasing participation in work are set as national goals in the Nordic countries. Work environment is known to play an important role in return to work after long-term sickness absence and may affect the timing of retirement transition. Additionally, it is important to not only scrutinize the impact of work environment on permanent withdrawal from the labour force but also to estimate the effect of common health problems on work participation in terms of work absenteeism, work ability and productivity loss due work presenteeism (reduced productivity due to working when ill). In addition, evidence-based information on the effectiveness and potential of population level interventions aimed at prevention of work disability and promotion of return to work is crucial for practical implementation and will allow decision makers to allocate resources to measures with the largest potential gain in work participation.
The general aim of the study is to build up a Nordic Occupational Register, which will include data on work disability, presenteeism, physical and psychosocial exposures and working life expectancy. The Register will allow the estimation of the potential of work-targeted interventions to reduce work disability and enhance work participation. All information will be registered by gender and occupation or occupational group. Another objective is to utilize the constructed register to assess the effectiveness of interventions targeted at increasing work participation at population level.
The project will produce comprehensive systematic knowledge on the effects of common chronic diseases, such as musculoskeletal diseases and mental disorders, on work participation in the Nordic workforce. It will utilize in a novel and effective way the rich data from several national registers, newly developed job exposure matrices and nationally representative longitudinal surveys. We foresee that the constructed Register will form a valuable tool for monitoring secular trends in work participation. It will also serve as knowledge resource for evaluating the effectiveness and potential impact of population level interventions targeted at enhancing work participation in the Nordic workforce.