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On Methodologies for Analysing Sickness Absence Data: An Insight into a New Method
Sickness absence represents a major economic and social issue. Analysis of sick leave data is a recurrent challenge to analysts because of the complexity of the data structure which is often time dependent, highly skewed and clumped at zero. Ignoring these features to make statistical inference is likely to be inefficient and misguided. Traditional approaches do not address these problems. In this study, we discuss model methodologies in terms of statistical techniques for addressing the difficulties with sick leave data. We also introduce and demonstrate a new method by performing a longitudinal assessment of long-term absenteeism using a large registration dataset as a working example available from the Helsinki Health Study for municipal employees from Finland during the period of 1990-1999. We present a comparative study on model selection and a critical analysis of the temporal trends, the occurrence and degree of long-term sickness absences among municipal employees. The strengths of this working example include the large sample size over a long follow-up period providing strong evidence in supporting of the new model. Our main goal is to propose a way to select an appropriate model and to introduce a new methodology for analysing sickness absence data as well as to demonstrate model applicability to complicated longitudinal data.
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