Background: Previous studies on the effects of work factors on absence and disability retirement have only
addressed a limited set of factors and little is known about the mechanisms that govern relationships between work
exposures and sickness absence/disability retirement. The main aims of the present project are (1) to examine the
impact of a comprehensive set of psychological, social, organizational, and mechanical work factors work factors on
sickness absence and disability retirement, and (2) to identify moderating and mediating variables that determine
how and when exposures at the workplace are related to sickness absence and disability retirement.
Methods: The study design is prospective and based on longitudinal survey data linked to registry data on sickness
absence and disability. Altogether 14,501 respondents have given their permission to the linking of their survey ques‑
tionnaire data to registry data. The project has been approved by the Regional Committees for Medical and Health
Research Ethics and has permission from The Norwegian Data Protection Authority. The questionnaire instruments
contain psychometrically validated items and inventories on demographic background factors, work exposures, indi‑
vidual dispositions and attitudes, somatic health, mental distress, well-being, lifestyle factors, and work ability.
Discussion: The findings will have relevance for, and benefit working life and the larger society in a number of ways.
Firstly, it will lead to a more knowledge about which work factors that contribute to health, sickness absence, and
participation in/exit from the labour force. Secondly, a better understanding of which mediators and moderators that
modify and govern these relationships. Both are central to the development of laws and regulations and to any politi‑
cal decision on measures to tackle sickness absence and early retirement.
Keywords: Work exposure, Health and well-being, Mediators and moderators, Sickness absence, Disability