Oxford University Press
Background: Women consistently have higher sickness absence than men. The double-burden hypothesis suggests this is due to higher work–family burden in women than men. The current study aimed to systematically review prospective studies of work–family conflict and subsequent sickness absence. Methods: A systematic search was conducted in the electronic databases Medline, PsycINFO, and Embase with subject heading terms and keywords with no language or time restrictions. Two reviewers independently screened abstracts and read full-texts with pre-defined inclusion and exclusion criteria. Results: Eight included studies (n = 40 856 respondents) measure perceived work–family conflict and subsequent sickness absence. We found moderate evidence for a positive relationship between work–family conflict and subsequent sickness absence, and that women experience higher levels of work–family conflict than men. Conclusion: Work–family conflict is associated with later sickness absence, and work–family conflict is more common for women than for men. This indicates that work–family conflict may contribute to the gender gap in sick leave. However, further studies are needed to confirm whether this relationship is causal.
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