Topic: Disasters, terror and stress management

Work environment and sick-leave in the aftermath of traumatic events

Extreme or abrupt changes at the work place, caused by disasters, accidents or terror, can shed new light on how employees respond to stress within the context of their work environment. The present project focuses on the terrorist attack that took place in the government quarters in Oslo, Norway on the 22nd of July, 2011.

2013 This project has been completed 2019

Project Manager

  • Heir, Trond

    Heir, Trond

    Research Professor/ Professor University of Oslo / dr. scient.

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Project Members

Main objective

The project aims to look into the aftermath of the terrorist attack that took place in the government quarters in Oslo, Norway on the 22nd of July, 2011 by prospectively exploring psychosocial aftereffects, focusing on changes in the Norwegian government’s work environment, sick leave/work participation rates and government employees’ psychological sequelae in association to the attack.

The overall objective of the project is to explore conditions that promote or inhibit satisfactory working conditions and satisfactory health levels as well as a high level of work participation by obtaining new research-based knowledge concerning psychosocial aftereffects of trauma that might cause employee withdrawal or exclusion from working life.


The study has a prospective, longitudinal design and the third and last wave of data collection took place March/April 2014. Data was mainly obtained by means of web-based questionnaires. All government employees in Oslo (n˜ 4000) were invited to participate in the study.

The project is funded by The Research Council of Norway.

Further information

In the spring of 2015 we received new data from NAV and SSB concerning sick-leave/work participation and the use of diagnostic codes in the aftermath of the terror 22nd of July, 2011. The new dataset is expected to be ready for use by the end of 2015.

The first background article from the study has now been published;

Here we look at self-reported loss of working ability and social functioning after 22 July. Future articles will link findings from this article to registered sick-leave days and diagnostic code use.


Berthelsen, M., Hansen, M. B., Nissen, A., Nielsen, M. B., Knardahl, S., & Heir, T. (2020). Effects of exposure to workplace terrorism on subsequent doctor certified sickness absence, and the modifying role of psychological and social work factors: a combined survey and register study. BMC Public Health, 20(1). doi:10.1186/s12889-020-08465-3

Hansen, M., Bang Hansen, M., Berthelsen, M., Nissen, A., & Heir, T. (2018). Sick leave before and after a work-place targeted terror attack. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health. doi:10.1007/s00420-018-1390-8

Solberg, Ø., Birkeland, M. S., Blix, I., Hansen, M., & Heir, T. (2016). Towards an exposure-dependent model of Posttraumatic stress: Longitudinal Course of Posttraumatic stress Symptomatology and Functional Impairment after the 2011 Oslo Bombing. Psychological Medicine, 46(15), 3241-3254. doi:10.1017/S0033291716001860

Solberg, Ø., Blix, I., & Heir, T. (2015). The aftermath of terrorism: posttraumatic stress and functional impairment after the 2011 Oslo bombing. Frontiers in Psychology. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01156