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Logo of oenvmedOccupational and Environmental MedicineVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
Occup Environ Med. 2003 January; 60(1): 3–9.
PMCID: PMC1740370

Reducing work related psychological ill health and sickness absence: a systematic literature review


A literature review revealed the following: key work factors associated with psychological ill health and sickness absence in staff were long hours worked, work overload and pressure, and the effects of these on personal lives; lack of control over work; lack of participation in decision making; poor social support; and unclear management and work role. There was some evidence that sickness absence was associated with poor management style. Successful interventions that improved psychological health and levels of sickness absence used training and organisational approaches to increase participation in decision making and problem solving, increase support and feedback, and improve communication. It is concluded that many of the work related variables associated with high levels of psychological ill health are potentially amenable to change. This is shown in intervention studies that have successfully improved psychological health and reduced sickness absence.

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