• effort–reward imbalance;
  • learning motivation;
  • sickness absence;
  • beginning teachers


The aim of this study was to analyse the impact of the effort–reward imbalance and learning motivation on sickness absence duration and sickness absence frequency among beginning teachers in Flanders (Belgium).

A total of 603 teachers, who recently graduated, participated in this study. Effort–reward imbalance and learning motivation were assessed by means of self-administered questionnaires. Prospective data of registered sickness absence during 12 months follow-up were collected. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed.

An imbalance between high efforts and low rewards (extrinsic hypothesis) was associated with longer sickness absence duration and more frequent absences. A low level of learning motivation (intrinsic hypothesis) was not associated with longer sickness absence duration but was significantly positively associated with sickness absence frequency. No significant results were obtained for the interaction hypothesis between imbalance and learning motivation. Further research is needed to deepen our understanding of the impact of psychosocial work conditions and personal resources on both sickness absence duration and frequency. Specifically, attention could be given to optimizing or reducing efforts spent at work, increasing rewards and stimulating learning motivation to influence sickness absence. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.