BACKGROUND Women take sick-leave more often than men, both in general and because of psychiatric disorders. The aim of the present study was to introduce the new dimension of sick-leave duration in the analysis of gender differences in minor psychiatric disorders.
METHOD A population-based register was used, which included all sick-leave spells exceeding seven consecutive days, 1985-1987, in a Swedish county.
RESULTS Sick-leave duration was longer for men. The greatest gender differences were found in the youngest and oldest age-groups. Women had higher incidence also in the longest spells. An increase in duration over the three years was found among women, leading to decreased gender differences.
CONCLUSIONS Contrary to other studies on minor psychiatric disorders, small gender differences were found. It is suggested that sick-leave duration can be used as a quantitative measure of health-related working capacity.