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Does organisational justice protect from sickness absence following a major life event? A Finnish public sector study
  1. M Elovainio1,2,
  2. M Kivimäki2,
  3. A Linna3,4,
  4. J Brockner5,
  5. K van den Bos6,
  6. J Greenberg7,
  7. J Pentti4,
  8. M Virtanen4,
  9. J Vahtera3,4
  1. 1National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
  2. 2University College London, London, UK
  3. 3Department of Public Health, University of Turku, and Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland
  4. 4FIOH, Helsinki, Finland
  5. 5Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
  6. 6Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  7. 7Jerald Greenberg, National University of Singapore, Singapore
  1. Correspondence to Dr Marko Elovainio, National Institute for Health and Welfare, PO Box 30, FIN-00271 Helsinki, Finland; marko.elovainio{at}


Background It has been shown that fairness perceptions have a strong impact on health, especially under conditions of great work stress. The aim of this study was to extend previous research in studying whether working in high justice workplace would protect from health effects following environmental stressors outside work.

Methods Using a prospective longitudinal design, the relationships between organisational justice and sickness-related absences both before and after a major life event among 25 459 public sector employees working in 2551 work units were studied. Sickness absences covered the period from 36 months before the event until 30 months after the event.

Results The increase in sickness absences after the event was larger and stayed at a higher level even 30 months after the event, among those who perceived the management practices in their work unit to be relatively unfair. Similar patterns were found for each of the distributive, procedural and interactional dimensions of organisational justice.

Conclusions Fair organisational and managerial procedures may buffer the negative health effects of psychosocial health risks outside work.

  • Organisational justice
  • health
  • illness
  • life event
  • public sector employees
  • prospective design
  • epidemiology me
  • health surveys
  • multilevel modelling
  • occupational
  • social factors in

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  • Funding Other funders: Academy of Finland.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the FIOH ethics committee.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.