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Hospital change and employee absenteeism (completed)

Organizational change often leads to adverse health outcomes and increased sickness absence. But do all organizational changes affect employees equally? And who are most vulnerable?

Photo: Colourbox

About the project

Norwegian public hospitals have undergone a multitude of different organizational changes during the past 15 years. The project investigates how these changes have impacted individual employees. We focus on the effects of different types of organizational changes, and the effect of change on different employee groups.

It is well documented that organizational change often lead to adverse health outcomes, increases in sickness absence and also more long lasting exclusion from the labor marked. But in previous research, organizational change has often been presented as one homogeneous variable, and few attempts have been made to differentiate between different forms of changes. The changes that have taken place in the Norwegian specialist health sector have varied in nature, origin and impact - from the merging of several hospitals into larger health enterprises to increased use of electronic equipment in day-to-day practices. We question whether organizational changes driven by needs in the clinic or the development of new technology will have the same effect on employee sickness absence as downsizing and other typically top down driven changes.

Additionally, the Norwegian hospital sector employs about 70 000 people, from several different socioeconomic and socio-demographic groups. Today there are few studies focusing on the effect of organizational change on individuals from different employee groups. We want to know what characterizes the groups that are most severely affected.

For a more detailed project description: project proposal


The main objective of this project is to gain more knowledge about the factors that influence employee reactions to organizational change.
We focus on:

  • characteristics of the change
  • characteristics of the change process
  • characteristics of the employees affected


This project is funded by NFR (the Norwegian Research Council) under the title "Reorganizing the public health sector: what are the individual consequences for the employees?"


  • International Research Institute of Stavanger (IRIS)
  • Work-Research Institute (AFI-WRI)
  • Oslo University College (OuC)
  • Rokkan Centre
  • the University of Oslo

In media

Mellomledere kan forebygge sykefravær (


Bernstrøm & Kjekshus: Leading during change: the effects of leader behavior on sickness absence in a Norwegian health trust, BMC Public Health, 12, 799.

Start - Finish

2009.08.26 - 2013.12.01

Published Mar. 2, 2011 4:48 PM - Last modified June 27, 2018 7:07 AM


Project leader

Kari Anne Holte



Detailed list of participants