Sick leave due to neck, shoulder and back disorders (NSBD) is higher among health-care workers, especially nursing aides/assistant nurses, compared with employees in other occupations. More information is needed about predictors of sick leave among health care workers. The aim of the study was to assess whether self-reported factors related to health, work and leisure time could predict: 1) future certified sick leave due to any cause, in nursing aides/assistant nurses (Study group I) and 2) future self-reported sick leave due to NSBD in nursing aides/assistant nurses (Study group II).
Study group I, comprised 443 female nursing aides/assistant nurses, not on sick leave at baseline when a questionnaire was completed. Data on certified sick leave were collected after 18 months. Study group II comprised 274 of the women, who at baseline reported no sick leave during the preceding year due to NSBD and who participated at the 18 month follow-up. Data on sick leave due to NSBD were collected from the questionnaire at 18 months. The associations between future sick leave and factors related to health, work and leisure time were tested by logistic regression analyses.
Health-related factors such as previous low back disorders (OR: 1.89; 95% CI 1.20–2.97) and previous sick leave (OR 6.40; 95%CI 3.97–10.31), were associated with a higher risk of future sick leave due to any cause. Factors related to health, work and leisure time, i.e. previous low back disorders (OR: 4.45; 95% CI 1.27–15.77) previous sick leave, not due to NSBD (OR 3.30; 95%CI 1.33–8.17), high strain work (OR 2.34; 95%CI 1.05–5.23) and high perceived physical exertion in domestic work (OR 2.56; 95%CI 1.12–5.86) were associated with a higher risk of future sick leave due to NSBD. In the final analyses, previous low back disorders and previous sick leave remained significant in both study groups.
The results suggest a focus on previous low back disorders and previous sick leave for the design of early prevention programmes aiming at reducing future sick leave due to any cause, as well as due to NSBD, among nursing aides/assistant nurses. A multifactorial approach may be of importance in the early prevention of sick leave due to NSBD.
Shoulder pain is common in primary care, and has an unfavourable outcome in many patients. Information about predictors of shoulder pain related sick leave in workers is scarce and inconsistent. The objective was to develop a clinical prediction rule for calculating the risk of shoulder pain related sick leave for individual workers, during the 6 months following first consultation in general practice.
A prospective cohort study with 6 months follow-up was conducted among 350 workers with a new episode of shoulder pain. Potential predictors included the results of a physical examination, sociodemographic variables, disease characteristics (duration of symptoms, sick leave in the 2 months prior to consultation, pain intensity, disability, comorbidity), physical activity, physical work load, psychological factors, and the psychosocial work environment. The main outcome measure was sick leave during 6 months following first consultation in general practice.
Response rate to the follow-up questionnaire at 6 months was 85%. During the 6 months after first consultation 30% (89/298) of the workers reported sick leave. 16% (47) reported 10 days sick leave or more. Sick leave during this period was predicted in a multivariable model by a longer duration of sick leave prior to consultation, more shoulder pain, a perceived cause of strain or overuse during regular activities, and co-existing psychological complaints. The discriminative ability of the prediction model was satisfactory with an area under the curve of 0.70 (95% CI 0.64–0.76).
Although 30% of all workers with shoulder pain reported sick leave during follow-up, the duration of sick leave was limited to a few days in most workers. We developed a prediction rule and a score chart that can be used by general practitioners and occupational health care providers to calculate the absolute risk of sick leave in individual workers with shoulder pain, which may help to identify workers who need additional attention. The performance and applicability of our model needs to be tested in other working populations with shoulder pain to enable valid and reliable use of the score chart in everyday practice.
Timely return to work after longterm sickness absence and the increased use of flexible work arrangements together with partial health-related benefits are tools intended to increase participation in work life. Although partial sickness benefit and partial disability pension are used in many countries, prospective studies on their use are largely lacking. Partial sickness benefit was introduced in Finland in 2007. This register study aimed to investigate the use of health-related benefits by subjects with prolonged sickness absence, initially on either partial or full sick leave.
Representative population data (13 375 men and 16 052 women either on partial or full sick leave in 2007) were drawn from national registers and followed over an average of 18 months. The registers provided information on the study outcomes: diagnoses and days of payment for compensated sick leaves, and the occurrence of disability pension. Survival analysis and multinomial regression were carried out using sociodemographic variables and prior sickness absence as covariates.
Approximately 60% of subjects on partial sick leave and 30% of those on full sick leave had at least one recurrent sick leave over the follow up. A larger proportion of those on partial sick leave (16%) compared to those on full sick leave (1%) had their first recurrent sick leave during the first month of follow up. The adjusted risks of the first recurrent sick leave were 1.8 and 1.7 for men and women, respectively, when subjects on partial sick leave were compared with those on full sick leave. There was no increased risk when those with their first recurrent sick leave in the first month were excluded from the analyses. The risks of a full disability pension were smaller and risks of a partial disability pension approximately two-fold among men and women initially on partial sick leave, compared to subjects on full sick leave.
This is the first follow up study of the newly adopted partial sickness benefit in Finland. The results show that compared to full sick leave, partial sick leave - when not followed by lasting return to work - is more typically followed by partial disability pension and less frequently by full disability pension. It is anticipated that the use of partial benefits in connection with part-time participation in work life will have favourable effects on future disability pension rates in Finland.
The aim of this investigation was to analyze temporal changes in anxiety, depression, and stress in patients with musculoskeletal pain for a period of up to 2 years after a multidisciplinary rehabilitation program, in relation to sick-listing (registered with The Swedish Social Insurance Agency [Forsakringskassan] for sickness benefit).
Ten persons with full-time sick leave (absence from work for medical reasons) (group 1) and 49 with part-time or no sick leave (group 2) at the end of the 2-year study period participated. It was shown in a previous study that group 1 had higher pain rating and higher subjective physical disability than group 2, with little or no improvement during and after rehabilitation. In the present study, all participants were evaluated with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale and a self-rated stress test.
Participants with full-time sick leave during the study period (group 1) showed improved stress levels but no change in anxiety and depression levels. Anxiety, depression, and stress changed more favorably in participants with part-time or no sick leave than in those with full-time sick leave.
The results of this study indicate that investigation and appropriate treatment of psychological symptoms, including anxiety and depression, are important in multidisciplinary rehabilitation of patients with musculoskeletal disorders.
anxiety; depression; musculoskeletal; rehabilitation; sick leave; stress
To examine whether self-reported treatments, workplace-oriented rehabilitation and change of occupation were associated with subsequent sickness absence and disability pension among long-term sick-listed for psychiatric disorders.
A prospective cohort study.
Setting and participants
5200 employees (80% from the Swedish municipalities and county councils and 20% manual workers from the Swedish industry) were randomly selected who in 1999 in the register of AFA Insurance had a new spell of long-term sickness absence due to a psychiatric disorder. Of these, 99 were excluded (duplicates and deaths, persons living abroad, with protected personal information), and 5101 received a questionnaire in 2001. 3053 individuals responded (60%). After the exclusion of employees with no sick leave in 1999 according to the Swedish social insurance agency, aged 62 years and older, with disability pension 1999–2001, no self-reported treatment, and with missing information on the covariates, our final study group was 2324 individuals. Logistic regression analyses were performed.
Sickness absence (>90 days) and disability pension (>0 day).
45% had sickness absence and 18% a new disability pension in 2002. Drug treatment and physiotherapy, respectively, were associated with increased odds of sickness absence (OR 1.56, 95% CI 1.28 to 1.90; OR 1.43, 95% CI 1.21 to 1.69), and disability pension (OR 1.79, 95% CI 1.34 to 2.41; OR 1.75, 95% CI 1.40 to 2.18). Workplace-oriented rehabilitation and change of occupation, respectively, reduced the odds of sickness absence (OR 0.70, 95% CI 0.59 to 0.83; OR 0.35, 95% CI 0.27 to 0.45).
We found a pattern of poorer outcome of drug treatment and physiotherapy compared with other treatments (psychotherapy, workplace-oriented rehabilitation and complementary or alternative medicine) in terms of increased odds of sickness absence and disability pension. Workplace-oriented rehabilitation and/or change of occupation were associated with reduced odds of sick leave. Studies with a randomised controlled trial design are needed to examine the effect on sick leave of a workplace-oriented intervention.
Rehabilitation Medicine; Public Health
The objective of this systematic review is to summarize scientific evidence concerning the predictive value of bio-psychosocial risk factors with regard to the outcome after lumbar disc surgery. Medical and psychological databases were used to locate potentially relevant articles, which resulted in the selection of 11 studies. Each of these studies has a prospective design that examined the predictive value of preoperative variables for the outcome of lumbar disc surgery. Results indicated that socio-demographic, clinical, work-related as well as psychological factors predict lumbar disc surgery outcome. Findings showed relatively consistently that a lower level of education, a higher level of preoperative pain, less work satisfaction, a longer duration of sick leave, higher levels of psychological complaints and more passive avoidance coping function as predictors of an unfavourable outcome in terms of pain, disability, work capacity, or a combination of these outcome measures. The results of this review provide preliminary opportunities to select patients at risk for an unfavourable outcome. However, further systematic and methodologically high quality research is required, particularly for those predictors that can be positively influenced by multidisciplinary interventions.
Lumbar disc surgery; Predictor; Prospective; Bio-psychosocial; Review
A number of previous studies have investigated various predictors for being granted a disability pension. The aim of this study was to test the efficacy of sick-leave track record as a predictor of being granted a disability pension in a large dataset based on subjects sampled from the general population and followed for a long time.
Data from five ongoing population-based Swedish studies was used, supplemented with data on all compensated sick leave periods, disability pensions granted, and vital status, obtained from official registers. The data set included 8,218 men and women followed for 16 years, generated 109,369 person years of observation and 97,160 sickness spells. Various measures of days of sick leave during follow up were used as independent variables and disability pension grant was used as outcome.
There was a strong relationship between individual sickness spell duration and annual cumulative days of sick leave on the one hand and being granted a disability pension on the other, among both men and women, after adjustment for the effects of marital status, education, household size, smoking habits, geographical area and calendar time period, a proxy for position in the business cycle. The interval between sickness spells showed a corresponding inverse relationship. Of all the variables studied, the number of days of sick leave per year was the most powerful predictor of a disability pension. For both men and women 245 annual sick leave days were needed to reach a 50% probability of transition to disability. The independent variables, taken together, explained 96% of the variation in disability pension grantings.
The sick-leave track record was the most important predictor of the probability of being granted a disability pension in this study, even when the influences of other variables affecting the outcome were taken into account.
The overall objective was to evaluate the predictive validity of a subgroup classification based on the Swedish version of the MPI, the MPI-S, among gainfully employed workers with neck pain (NP) and/or low back pain (LBP) during a follow-up period of 18 and 36 months.
This is a prospective cohort study that is part of a larger longitudinal multi-centre study entitled Work and Health in the Process and Engineering Industries (AHA). The attempt was to classify individuals at risk for developing chronic disabling NP and LBP. This is the first study using the MPI-questionnaire in a working population with NP and LBP.
Dysfunctional individuals (DYS) demonstrated more statistically significant sickness absence compared to adaptive copers (AC) after 36 months. DYS also had a threefold increase in the risk ratio of long-term sickness absence at 18 months. Interpersonally distressed (ID) subgroup showed overall more sickness absence compared to the AC subgroup at the 36-month follow-up and had a twofold increase in the risk ratio of long-term sickness absence at 18 months. There was a significant difference in bodily pain, mental and physical health for ID and DYS subgroups compared to the AC group at both follow-ups.
The present study shows that this multidimensional approach to the classification of individuals based on psychological and psychosocial characteristics can distinguish different groups in gainfully employed working population with NP/LBP. The results in this study confirm the predictive validity of the MPI-S subgroup classification system.
Little is known about future sick-leave diagnoses among individuals on long-term sickness absence. The aim of this study was to describe the panorama of sick-leave diagnoses over time among young adults initially sick-listed for ≥ 28 days due to back, neck, or shoulder diagnoses
An 11-year prospective population-based cohort study including all 213 individuals in a Swedish municipality who, in 1985, were aged 25–34 years and had a new sick-leave spell ≥ 28 days due to neck, shoulder, or back diagnoses.
Over the 11-year period, the young adults in this cohort had 176,825 sick-leave days in 7,878 sick-leave periods (in 4,610 sick-leave spells) due to disorders in 17 of the 18 ICD-8 diagnostic categories (International Classification of Diseases, Revision 8). Musculoskeletal or mental diagnoses accounted for most of the sick-leave days, whereas most of the sick-leave periods were due to musculoskeletal, respiratory, or infectious disorders, or to unclassified symptoms. Most cohort members had had four to eight different sick-leave diagnoses over the 11 years, although some had had up to 11 diagnoses. Only two individuals (1%) had been sickness absent solely due to musculoskeletal diagnoses.
Although the young adults initially were sick listed with back, neck, or shoulder diagnoses, their sickness absence during the follow up were due to a wide variety of other medical diagnoses. It might be that the ill-health content of sickness absence due to back pain is greater than usually assumed. More research on prognoses of sick-leave diagnoses among long-term sick listed is warranted.
To investigate diagnosis‐specific sick leave as a risk marker for subsequent disability pension.
A prospective population based cohort study. Exposure to a new medically certified sick leave episode of more than seven days by diagnosis during 1985 was examined in relation to incident cause‐specific disability pension through 1996.
The total non‐retired population of one Swedish county aged 16 to 49 years, alive and not in receipt of a disability pension at the end of 1985 (176 629 persons; 51% men).
To eliminate confounding by sick leaves that translate into a disability pension, the follow up period for disability pension was started five years after the assessment of sick leave. After adjustment for demographic characteristics, the risk of disability pension from mental disorders was 14.1 times higher (95% confidence interval (CI), 12.1 to 16.4) for those with sick leave for mental disorders than for those with no sick leave. The corresponding hazard ratio for sick leave and disability pension within diagnostic category was 5.7 (95% CI, 5.3 to 6.2) for musculoskeletal diseases and 13.0 (7.7 to 21.8) for gastrointestinal diseases. Irrespective of diagnoses, the hazard ratio for sick leave and disability pension was 3.0 (2.9 to 3.1).
Sick leave may provide an important risk marker for identifying groups at high risk of a disability pension, especially for psychiatric diagnoses.
disability; pensions; ill health retirement; sickness absence; mental health
The objective of the present study was to develop a short prediction questionnaire for estimating the risk of no return to work (RTW) within 3 months of sick leave to facilitate triage and management of a patient population of subacute low-back pain (LBP) sufferers. We conducted a prospective study with a 3-month follow-up on 186 patients with LBP introducing a claim for sickness benefits to the largest sickness fund in Belgium. Patients completed a screening questionnaire within 2 weeks after claim submission. All patients were invited for clinical assessment, at 6–8 weeks of sick leave, by the medical adviser. Patients’ work status was recorded by the sickness fund. About 20% of the patients did not resume work at 3 months’ sick leave. They were more likely to experience pain below the knee, to have an own previous prediction of a 100% no RTW and to have a severe interference of pain on daily activities. The screening tool based on these three items correctly classified 73.7% of the non-resumers and 78.4% of the resumers at a cut-off score of 0.22. The findings of this study provide evidence of the utility of a short screening questionnaire for future use in intervention studies in a social security setting.
Low back pain; Return to work; Screening; Predictors; Outcomes
To support sustainability of the welfare society enhanced work retention is needed among those with impaired work ability. Partial health-related benefits have been introduced for this target. The aim was to estimate the effects of partial sick leave on transition to disability pension applying propensity score methods.
Register-based cohort study.
Sample from the national sickness insurance registers representative of the Finnish working population (full-time workers) with long-term sickness absence due to musculoskeletal disorders, mental disorders, traumas or tumours.
All recipients of partial or full sickness benefit whose sick leave period had ended between 1 May and 31 December 2007 were included. The sample was limited to four most prevalent diagnostic groups—mental and musculoskeletal disorders, traumas and tumours. The total sample consisted of 1047 subjects on partial sick leave (treatment group) and 28 380 subjects on full sick leave (control group). A subsample (1017 and 25 249 subjects, respectively) was formed to improve the comparability of the two groups.
A three-category measure and a binary measure for the occurrence of disability pension on the last day of 2008 were computed.
Partial sickness benefit reduced the risk (change in absolute risk) of full disability pension by 6% and increased the risk of partial disability pension by 8% compared with full sick leave. The effects did not differ markedly for the two main diagnostic groups of musculoskeletal and mental disorders. In men, the use of full disability pension was reduced by 10% with a 5% increase in the use of partial disability pension, while in women the effects were close to those of the total sample.
Our findings suggest that combining work with partial sick leave may provide one means to increase work retention at population level. The use of partial sick leave could be encouraged among men.
Epidemiology; Public Health; Population Registers
Background. Undetected Common Mental Disorders (CMDs) amongst people on sick leave complicate rehabilitation and return to work because appropriate treatments are not initiated. Aims. The aim of this study is to estimate (1) the frequencies of CMD, (2) the predictors of undetected CMD, and (3) the rate of return to work among sick listed individuals without a psychiatric disorder, who are registered on long-term sickness absence (LSA). Methods. A total of 2,414 incident individuals on LSA with a response rate of 46.4%, were identified for a two-phase study. The subsample of this study involved individuals registered on LSA who were sick-listed without a psychiatric sick leave diagnosis. In this respect, Phase 1 included 831 individuals, who were screened for mental disorders. In Phase 2, following the screening of Phase 1, 227 individuals were thoroughly examined by a psychiatrist applying Present State Examination. The analyses of the study were carried out based on the 227 individuals from Phase 2 and, subsequently, weighted to be representative of the 831 individuals in Phase 1. Results. The frequencies of undetected mental disorders among all sick-listed individuals were for any psychiatric diagnosis 21%, depression 14%, anxiety 4%, and somatoform disorder 6%. Conclusions. Undetected CMD may delay the initiation of appropriate treatment and complicate the rehabilitation and return to work.
Methods: The study group consisted of 1075 women employed as nurses, assistant nurses, medical secretaries, or metal workers who answered a questionnaire comprising 218 questions on women's health and living conditions. Sickness absence was collected from employers' and social insurance registers.
Results: Women working in the male dominated occupation had in general higher sickness absence compared to those working in female dominated occupations. However, metal workers at female dominated work sites had 2.98 (95% CI 2.17 to 3.79) sick-leave spells per woman and year compared to 1.70 (95% CI 1.29 to 2.10) among those working with almost only men. In spite of a better physical work environment, female metal workers at a female dominated work site had a higher sickness absence than other women, which probably could be explained by the worse psychosocial work environment. Working with more women also had a positive association to increased frequency of sick-leave spells in a multivariate analysis including several known indicators of increased sick-leave.
Conclusions: There was an association between sickness absence and sex segregation, in different directions at the occupational and work site level. The mechanism behind this needs to be more closely understood regarding selection in and out of an occupation and a certain work site.
STUDY OBJECTIVE—The study is an empirical investigation of sickness presenteeism in relation to occupation, irreplaceability, ill health, sickness absenteeism, personal income, and slimmed down organisation.
DESIGN—Cross sectional design.
PARTICIPANTS—The study group comprised a stratified subsample of 3801 employed persons working at the time of the survey, interviewed by telephone in conjunction with Statistics Sweden's labour market surveys of August and September 1997. The response rate was 87 per cent.
MAIN RESULTS—A third of the persons in the total material reported that they had gone to work two or more times during the preceding year despite the feeling that, in the light of their perceived state of health, they should have taken sick leave. The highest presenteeism is largely to be found in the care and welfare and education sectors (nursing and midwifery professionals, registered nurses, nursing home aides, compulsory school teachers and preschool/primary educationalists. All these groups work in sectors that have faced personnel cutbacks during the 1990s). The risk ratio (odds ratio (OR)) for sickness presenteeism in the group that has to re-do work remaining after a period of absence through sickness is 2.29 (95% CI 1.79, 2.93). High proportions of persons with upper back/neck pain and fatigue/slightly depressed are among those with high presenteeism (p< 0.001). Occupational groups with high sickness presenteeism show high sickness absenteeism (ρ = 0.38; p<.01) and the hypothesis on level of pay and sickness presenteeism is also supported (ρ = −0.22; p<0.01).
CONCLUSIONS—Members of occupational groups whose everyday tasks are to provide care or welfare services, or teach or instruct, have a substantially increased risk of being at work when sick. The link between difficulties in replacement or finding a stand in and sickness presenteeism is confirmed by study results. The categories with high sickness presenteeism experience symptoms more often than those without presenteeism. The most common combination is low monthly income, high sickness absenteeism and high sickness presenteeism.
Keywords: sickness presenteeism; sickness absenteeism; ill health
Evidence based and gender specific knowledge about sickness absence following coronary revascularisation is lacking. The objective was to investigate sickness absence after a first coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) among women and men in a national Swedish study.
Materials and Methods
All patients 30–63 years of age, who underwent a first CABG (n = 22,985, 16% women) or PCI (40,891, 22% women) in Sweden between 1994 and 2006 were included. Information on sickness absence, co-morbidity, and other patient characteristics was obtained from national registers. Long-term sickness absence (LTSA) was defined as >180 and >90 sick-leave days in the first sick-leave spell following CABG and PCI, respectively. Prevalence ratio (PR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) of LTSA were calculated.
LTSA followed the interventions in 41% and 36% for CABG and PCI patients, respectively. Women had more often LTSA compared with men, (CABG PR = 1.23: 95% CI 1.19–1.28 and PCI PR = 1.19; 95% CI 1.16–1.23). A history of sickness absence the year before the intervention increased the risk for LTSA after the intervention in both genders. Among women, older age, or being self employed or unemployed was associated with a lower risk for LTSA. Among men previous cardiovascular disease, diabetes and low socio-economic position increased the risk. During the observation period, there was no change in sickness absence rates among PCI patients but an increase among CABG patients adjusting for patient characteristics.
This national study covering a 13-year period shows that long-term sickness absence following coronary revascularisation is common in Sweden, especially among women, and is associated with socio-economic position, co-morbidity, and sickness absence during the year before the intervention. Gender specific scientific knowledge about use and effects of sickness absence following coronary revascularisation is warranted for the patients, the treating physicians, the healthcare sector, and the society.
In previous studies the authors have found sick leave to be a predictor of future sick leave, unemployment and disability pension. Although sick leave reflects underlying health problems, some studies have suggested that sick leave may have consequences beyond the consequences of the underlying illness. However, few studies have aimed at studying consequences of sick leave while adjusting for ill health. This study aims to explore whether short-term sick leave increases the risk of future long-term sick leave, disability pension, and unemployment. Furthermore, we aim to control for the potentially confounding effects of physical and mental health status.
Data were gathered from the Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC), restricted to 11,156 employed individuals (48.6% men) aged 18–59, without long-term sick leave, disability pension or in-patient care the year before inclusion (2002). These were followed-up with regard to unemployment, long-term sick leave, and disability pension in 2006 and 2007.
Odds ratios (OR) with corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated by logistic regression, controlling for six different measures of health status (limiting long-standing illness, self-rated health, mental health, somatic disease, musculoskeletal pain and in-patient care) and socio-demographic factors.
Results from the unadjusted analyses indicated increased risks of long-term sick leave (OR 2.00; CI 1.62-2.46) and short-term unemployment (OR 1.76; CI 1.35-2.29) for individuals exposed to more than one short-term sick-leave spell. There were no increased odds of long-term unemployment (OR 0.54; CI 0.28-1.04) or disability pension (OR 0.72; CI 0.42-1.24). After adjusting for the different measures of health status the odds ratio for short-term unemployment was not statistically significant (OR 1.29; CI 0.97-1.74). The odds ratios for the other outcomes slightly increased after adjustment for the used measures of health status.
The results support the assumption that short-term sick leave may have consequences for future sick leave beyond the effect of ill health. The results point to the importance of paying attention to short-term sick leave in order to prevent subsequent sickness absence.
Short-term sick leave; Health status; Future sickness absence; Unemployment; Population-based study
The importance of staying active instead of bed rest has been acknowledged in the management of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). This emphasizes the potential benefits of adjusting work to fit the employee's remaining work ability. Despite part-time sick leave being an official option in many countries, its effectiveness has not been studied yet. We have designed a randomized controlled study to assess the health effects of early part-time sick leave compared to conventional full-day sick leave. Our hypothesis is that if work time is temporarily reduced and work load adjusted at the early stages of disability, employees with MSDs will have less disability days and faster return to regular work duties than employees on a conventional sick leave.
The study population will consist of 600 employees, who seek medical advice from an occupational physician due to musculoskeletal pain. The inclusion requires that they have not been on a sick leave for longer than 14 days prior to the visit. Based on the physician's judgement, the severity of the symptoms must indicate a need for conventional sick leave, but the employee is considered to be able to work part-time without any additional risk. Half of the employees are randomly allocated to part-time sick leave group and their work time is reduced by 40–60%, whereas in the control group work load is totally eliminated with conventional sick leave. The main outcomes are the number of days from the initial visit to return to regular work activities, and the total number of sick leave days during 12 and 24 months of follow-up. The costs and benefits as well as the feasibility of early part-time sick leave will also be evaluated.
This is the first randomised trial to our knowledge on the effectiveness of early part-time sick leave compared to conventional full-time sick leave in the management of MSDs. The data collection continues until 2011, but preliminary results on the feasibility of part-time sick leave will be available already in 2008. The increased knowledge will assist in better decision making process regarding the management of disability related to MSDs.
International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number Register, register number ISRCTN30911719
Long-term sickness absence is high in many Western countries. In Sweden and many other countries, decisions on entitlement to sickness benefits and return to work measures are based on information provided by physicians in sickness certificates. The quality demands, as stressed by the Swedish sick leave guidelines from 2008, included accurate sickness certificates with assessment of functioning clearly documented. This study aims to compare quality of sickness certificates between 2007 and 2009 in Östergötland County, Sweden. Quality is defined in terms of descriptions of functioning with the use of activity and participation according to WHO’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), and in prescriptions of early rehabilitation.
During two weeks in 2007 and four weeks in 2009, all certificates had been collected upon arrival to the social insurance office in Östergötland County, Sweden. Four hundred seventy-five new certificates were included in 2007 and 501 in 2009. Prolongations of sick leave were included until the last date of sick listing. Free text on functioning was analysed deductively using the ICF framework, and placed into categories (body functions/structures, activity, participation, no description) for statistical analysis.
The majority of the certificates were issued for musculoskeletal diseases or mental disorders. Text on functioning could be classified into the components of ICF in 65% and 78% of sickness certificates issued in 2007 and 2009, respectively. Descriptions according to body components such as “sensations of pain” or “emotional functions” were given in 58% of the certificates from 2007 and in 65% from 2009. The activity component, for example “walking” or “handling stress”, was more frequent in certificates issued in 2009 compared with 2007 (33% versus 26%). Prescriptions of early rehabilitation increased from 27% in 2007 to 35% in 2009, primarily due to more counseling.
An improvement of the quality between certificates collected in 2007 and 2009 was demonstrated in Östergötland County, Sweden. The certificates from 2009 provided more information linkable to ICF and incorporated an increased use of activity limitations when describing patients’ functioning. Still, activity limitations and prescriptions of early rehabilitation were only present in one-third of the sickness certificates.
Sickness certificates; International Classification of Functioning; Disability and Health (ICF); Rehabilitation; Sick leave; Physicians; Functioning; Work ability; Sweden
To investigate associations between a wide variety of psychosocial work conditions and sickness absence in a medium-sized company.
Prospective cohort study of 395 employees working in an insurance office. Self-reported psychosocial work conditions were measured by questionnaire in January 2002 and linked to registered sickness absence in the period January 2002 to December 2004 adjusting for earlier sick leave and psychological distress.
The questionnaires of 244 employees were eligible for analysis. Decision authority and co-worker support were associated with sickness absence days, but their associations with sickness absence episodes were not significant. Role clarity was associated with the number of sickness absence days, but only with the number of short sickness absence episodes in women.
The wide variety of investigated psychosocial work conditions contributed little to the explanation of sickness absence in the medium-sized insurance office.
Psychosocial work conditions; Sickness absence days; Sickness absence episodes
Introduction There are substantial differences in the number of disability benefits for occupational low back pain (LBP) among countries. There are also large cross country differences in disability policies. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) there are two principal policy approaches: countries which have an emphasis on a compensation policy approach or countries with an emphasis on an reintegration policy approach. The International Social Security Association initiated this study to explain differences in return-to-work (RTW) among claimants with long term sick leave due to LBP between countries with a special focus on the effect of different disability policies. Methods A multinational cohort of 2,825 compensation claimants off work for 3–4 months due to LBP was recruited in Denmark, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States. Relevant predictors and interventions were measured at 3 months, one and 2 years after the start of sick leave. The main outcome measure was duration until sustainable RTW (i.e. working after 2 years). Multivariate analyses were conducted to explain differences in sustainable RTW between countries and to explore the effect of different disability policies. Results Medical and work interventions varied considerably between countries. Sustainable RTW ranged from 22% in the German cohort up to 62% in the Dutch cohort after 2 years of follow-up. Work interventions and job characteristics contributed most to these differences. Patient health, medical interventions and patient characteristics were less important. In addition, cross-country differences in eligibility criteria for entitlement to long-term and/or partial disability benefits contributed to the observed differences in sustainable RTW rates: less strict criteria are more effective. The model including various compensation policy variables explained 48% of the variance. Conclusions Large cross-country differences in sustainable RTW after chronic LBP are mainly explained by cross-country differences in applied work interventions. Differences in eligibility criteria for long term disability benefits contributed also to the differences in RTW. This study supports OECD policy recommendations: Individual packages of work interventions and flexible (partial) disability benefits adapted to the individual needs and capacities are important for preventing work disability due to LBP.
Compensation policy; Disability policy; Back pain; Medical intervention; Work intervention; Multinational cohort
Introduction To study the properties of a screening instrument in predicting long-term sickness absence among employees with depressive complaints. Methods Employees at high risk of future sickness absence were selected by the screening instrument Balansmeter (BM). Depressive complaints were assessed with the depression scale of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. The total study population consisted of 7,401 employees. Sickness absence was assessed objectively and analyzed at 12 and 18 months of follow-up using company registers on certified sick leave. Results The relative risk (RR) for long-term sickness absence, for employees at high risk versus not at high risk, was 3.26 (95% CI 2.54–4.22) in men and 2.55 (1.98–3.35) in women, when the BM was applied in the total study population. The RR of long-term sickness absence of employees with depressive complaints compared with employees without depressive complaints was 3.13 (2.41–4.09) in men and 2.45 (2.00–3.00) in women. The RR of long-term sickness absence for the BM applied in employees with depressive complaints was 5.23 in men and 3.87 in women. When the BM with a cut-off point with a higher sensitivity was applied in employees with depressive complaints, the RR for long-term sickness absence was 4.88 in men and 3.80 in women. Conclusions The screening instrument Balansmeter is able to predict long-term sickness absence within employees with depressive complaints. The total prediction of long-term sickness absence proved better in employees with depressive complaints compared with employees of a general working population.
Prediction; Screening instrument; Sickness absence; Depressive complaints; Employees
The Longitudinal Analysis of Nursing Education (LANE) study was initiated in 2002, with the aim of longitudinally examining a wide variety of individual and work-related variables related to psychological and physical health, as well as rates of employee and occupational turnover, and professional development among nursing students in the process of becoming registered nurses and entering working life. The aim of this paper is to present the LANE study, to estimate representativeness and analyse response rates over time, and also to describe common career pathways and life transitions during the first years of working life.
Three Swedish national cohorts of nursing students on university degree programmes were recruited to constitute the cohorts. Of 6138 students who were eligible for participation, a total of 4316 consented to participate and responded at baseline (response rate 70%). The cohorts will be followed prospectively for at least three years of their working life.
Sociodemographic data in the cohorts were found to be close to population data, as point estimates only differed by 0-3% from population values. Response rates were found to decline somewhat across time, and this decrease was present in all analysed subgroups. During the first year after graduation, nearly all participants had qualified as nurses and had later also held nursing positions. The most common reason for not working was due to maternity leave. About 10% of the cohorts who graduated in 2002 and 2004 intended to leave the profession one year after graduating, and among those who graduated in 2006 the figure was almost twice as high. Intention to leave the profession was more common among young nurses. In the cohort who graduated in 2002, nearly every fifth registered nurse continued to further higher educational training within the health professions. Moreover, in this cohort, about 2% of the participants had left the nursing profession five years after graduating.
Both high response rates and professional retention imply a potential for a thorough analysis of professional practice and occupational health.
Musculoskeletal disorders increase the risk for absenteeism and work disability. However, the threshold when musculoskeletal pain intensity significantly increases the risk of sickness absence among different occupations is unknown. This study estimates the risk for long-term sickness absence (LTSA) from different pain intensities in the low back, neck/shoulder and knees among female healthcare workers in eldercare.
Prospective cohort study among 8,732 Danish female healthcare workers responding to a questionnaire in 2004–2005, and subsequently followed for one year in a national register of social transfer payments (DREAM). Using Cox regression hazard ratio (HR) analysis we modeled risk estimates of pain intensities on a scale from 0–9 (reference 0, where 0 is no pain and 9 is worst imaginable pain) in the low back, neck/shoulders and knees during the last three months for onset of LTSA (receiving sickness absence compensation for at least eight consecutive weeks) during one-year follow-up.
During follow-up, the 12-month prevalence of LTSA was 6.3%. With adjustment for age, BMI, smoking and leisure physical activity, the thresholds of pain intensities significantly increasing risk of LTSA for the low back (HR 1.44 [95%CI 1.07–1.93]), neck/shoulders (HR 1.47 [95%CI 1.10–1.96]) and knees (HR 1.43 [95%CI 1.06–1.93]) were 5, 4 and 3 (scale 0–9), respectively, referencing pain intensity of 0.
The threshold of pain intensity significantly increasing the risk for LTSA among female healthcare workers varies across body regions, with knee pain having the lowest threshold. This knowledge may be used in the prevention of LTSA among health care workers.
An ambulatory multimodal cognitive-behavioural treatment programme (MMCBT) for Swedish workers with chronic spinal pain was formally evaluated. The design was a matched cohort study with three repeated measures done in two groups of 35 referred patients (one exposed to MMCBT and controls exposed to usual care). The MMCBT package includes standardised modules of physical treatment, cognitive-behavioural treatment, education of worker patients, and education of subjects' supervisors. The primary outcome variables assessed were absenteeism, disability, pain, and depression. Because of a change in Swedish sick leave compensation laws affecting records of absence during the study period, absenteeism could not be reliably measured among controls. The trend, however, suggested a reduction of absenteeism among the subjects in the MMCBT cohort. The findings for disability, pain, and depression all showed clinically important and significant beneficial changes (ANOVA for repeated measures: disability p = 0.05; pain p = 0.001; depression p = 0.01). The direction of the improvements and the size of effect were coherent and clinically plausible. The benefits were only among the women in the study. These comprised 74% of each group. Further research on larger sample sizes and in cohorts more representative of the whole country are needed to confirm these encouraging findings and to explore how the benefits might be extended to men.