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1.  Diagnosis-specific disability pension and risk of all-cause and cause-specific mortality – a cohort study of 4.9 million inhabitants in Sweden 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:1247.
The incidence of disability pension (DP) is high in several European countries. However, knowledge on associations of cause-specific DP and premature death is limited. The aims were to: 1) investigate the association between cause-specific DP and all-cause and cause-specific mortality among women and men and 2) examine period effects of this association.
Three prospective population-based cohort studies were conducted, the first including all individuals aged 16–64 years who lived in Sweden all of 1995 and who were not on DP before 1995 (N = 5 006 523, 48.8% women). Those granted DP in 1995 were compared to those not granted DP regarding mortality during 1996–2009. Two other cohorts were created in a similar fashion, for 2000 and 2005, respectively, and in comparisons each of the three cohorts were followed up for four years with regard to all-cause mortality as well as death due to cancer, circulatory disorders, or suicide. All analyses were stratified by sex and we controlled for a number of socio-demographic factors and inpatient care.
Individuals with granted DP had a higher mortality risk, women (HR 1.75; 95% CI 1.68-1.82) and men (HR 1.66; 95% CI 1.61-1.71) and highest for cancer. People on DP with some diagnoses had higher risk of premature death in other causes of death than their DP diagnoses. All-cause mortality risk varied with DP-diagnosis and was lowest for musculoskeletal diagnoses. The mortality HR decreased among women with DP between the cohort 1995, HR 2.07 (1.92–2.24) and the cohort 2005, 1.84 (1.71–1.99). Here, temporal decreases in mortality risk occurred particularly in DP due to mental diagnoses and cancer.
All DP diagnoses were associated with a higher mortality risk. Even individuals granted DP due to diagnoses with low mortality risk displayed a higher risk for premature death. This warrants close monitoring of disability pensioners and further studies on consequences of being on disability pension.
PMCID: PMC4289270  PMID: 25476556
Mortality; Disability pension; Suicide; Cancer; Circulatory disease; Sick leave
2.  Associations between number of sick-leave days and future all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a population-based cohort study 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:733.
As the number of studies on the future situation of sickness absentees still is very limited, we aimed to investigate the association between number of sick-leave days and future all-cause and cause-specific mortality among women and men.
A cohort of 2 275 987 women and 2 393 248 men, aged 20–64 years in 1995 was followed 1996–2006 with regard to mortality. Data were obtained from linked authority-administered registers. The relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) of mortality with and without a 2-year wash-out period were estimated by multivariate Poisson regression analyses. All analyses were stratified by sex, adjusting for socio demographics and inpatient care.
A gradually higher all-cause mortality risk occurred with increasing number of sick-leave days in 1995, among both women (RR 1.11; CI 1.07-1.15 for those with 1–15 sick-leave days to RR 2.45; CI 2.36-2.53 among those with 166–365 days) and men (RR 1.20; CI 1.17-1.24 to RR 1.91; CI 1.85-1.97). Multivariate risk estimates were comparable for the different causes of death (circulatory disease, cancer, and suicide). The two-year washout period had only a minor effect on the risk estimates.
Even a low number of sick-leave days was associated with a higher risk for premature death in the following 11 years, also when adjusting for morbidity. This was the case for both women and men and also for cause-specific mortality. More knowledge is warranted on the mechanisms leading to higher mortality risks among sickness absentees, as sickness certification is a common measure in health care, and most sick leave is due to diagnoses you do not die from.
PMCID: PMC4223521  PMID: 25037232
Mortality; Sick-leave days; Socioeconomic status; Gender; Morbidity; Inpatient care
3.  Health care management of sickness certification tasks: results from two surveys to physicians 
BMC Research Notes  2013;6:207.
Health care in general and physicians in particular, play an important role in patients’ sickness certification processes. However, a lack of management within health care regarding how sickness certification is carried out has been identified in Sweden. A variety of interventions to increase the quality of sickness certification were introduced by the government and County Councils. Some of these measures were specifically aimed at strengthening health care management of sickness certification; e.g. policy making and management support. The aim was to describe to what extent physicians in different medical specialties had access to a joint policy regarding sickness certification in their clinical settings and experienced management support in carrying out sickness certification.
A descriptive study, based on data from two cross-sectional questionnaires sent to all physicians in the Stockholm County regarding their sickness certification practice. Criteria for inclusion in this study were working in a clinical setting, being a board-certified specialist, <65 years of age, and having sickness certification consultations at least a few times a year. These criteria were met by 2497 physicians in 2004 and 2204 physicians in 2008. Proportions were calculated regarding access to policy and management support, stratified according to medical specialty.
The proportions of physicians working in clinical settings with a well-established policy regarding sickness certification were generally low both in 2004 and 2008, but varied greatly between different types of medical specialties (from 6.1% to 46.9%). Also, reports of access to substantial management support regarding sickness certification varied greatly between medical specialties (from 10.5% to 48.8%). More than one third of the physicians reported having no such management support.
Most physicians did not work in a clinical setting with a well-established policy on sickness certification tasks, nor did they experience substantial support from their manager. The results indicate a need of strengthening health care management of sickness certification tasks in order to better support physicians in these tasks.
PMCID: PMC3671141  PMID: 23701711
Health care management; Sickness certification practice; Sick leave; Physician
4.  Lack of Adjustment Latitude at Work as a Trigger of Taking Sick Leave—A Swedish Case-Crossover Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61830.
Research has shown that individuals reporting a low level of adjustment latitude, defined as having few possibilities to temporarily adjust work demands to illness, have a higher risk of sick leave. To what extent lack of adjustment latitude influences the individual when making the decision to take sick leave is unknown. We hypothesize that ill individuals are more likely to take sick leave on days when they experience a lack of adjustment latitude at work than on days with access to adjustment latitude.
A case-crossover design was applied to 546 sick-leave spells, extracted from a cohort of 1 430 employees at six Swedish workplaces, with a 3–12 month follow-up of all new sick-leave spells. Exposure to lack of adjustment latitude on the first sick-leave day was compared with exposure during several types of control periods sampled from the previous two months for the same individual.
Only 35% of the respondents reported variations in access to adjustment latitude, and 19% reported a constant lack of adjustment latitude during the two weeks prior to the sick-leave spell. Among those that did report variation, the risk of sick leave was lower on days with lack of adjustment latitude, than on days with access (Odds Ratio 0.36, 95% Confidence Interval 0.25–0.52).
This is the first study to show the influence of adjustment latitude on the decision to take sick leave. Among those with variations in exposure, lack of adjustment latitude was a deterrent of sick leave, which is contrary to the à priori hypothesis. These results indicate that adjustment latitude may not only capture long-lasting effects of a flexible working environment, but also temporary possibilities to adjust work to being absent. Further studies are needed to disentangle the causal mechanisms of adjustment latitude on sick-leave.
PMCID: PMC3631183  PMID: 23620792
5.  Specialist prescribing of psychotropic drugs to older persons in Sweden - a register-based study of 188 024 older persons 
BMC Psychiatry  2012;12:197.
The situation for older persons with mental disorders other than dementia disorders has scarcely been studied. The older population is increasing worldwide and along with this increase the prevalence of mental disorders will also rise. The treatment of older persons with mental disorders entails complex challenges, with drugs constituting the major medical treatment. Knowledge of geriatric psychiatry is essential for providing older persons with appropriate treatment and care. This study aimed to evaluate the prescription of drugs for mental disorders to older persons (≥65) in Sweden, focused on the medical specialties of the prescribing physicians.
Data concerning drug treatment for older persons from 2006 to 2008 was gathered from the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register. Mental disorders, defined as affective, psychotic and anxiety disorders (ICD-10 F20-42) were evaluated in order to identify associated drugs. Included was a total of 188 024 older individuals, who collectively filled 2 013 079 prescriptions for the treatment of mental disorders. Descriptive analyses were performed, including frequency distribution and 95% CI. The competence of the prescribers was analyzed by subdividing them into five groups: geriatricians, psychiatrists, general practitioners (GPs), other specialists, and physicians without specialist education.
GPs represented the main prescribers, whereas geriatricians and psychiatrists rarely prescribed drugs to older persons. Benzodiazepines and tricyclic antidepressants were the most commonly prescribed drugs. Women were prescribed drugs from geriatricians and psychiatrists to a greater extent than men.
This study examined the prescription of psychotropic drugs to older persons. Physicians specialized in older persons’ disorders and mental health were rarely the prescribers of these drugs. Contrary to clinical guidelines, benzodiazepines and tricyclic antidepressants were commonly prescribed to older persons, emphasizing the need for continuous examination of pharmaceutical treatment for older persons. The results indicate a future need of more specialists in geriatrics and psychiatry.
PMCID: PMC3528448  PMID: 23148734
Aged; Geriatric; Mental disorders; Older persons; Physicians; Prescribing; Psychiatry; Psychotropic drugs; Register-based
6.  Psychiatrists′ work with sickness certification: frequency, experiences and severity of the certification tasks in a national survey in Sweden 
Many psychiatrists are involved in sickness certification of their patients; however, there is very limited knowledge about this aspect of their work. The objective of this study was to explore frequencies of problematic issues in the sickness certification tasks and experiences of severity regarding these problematic issues among psychiatrists.
A cross-sectional nationwide questionnaire study to all physicians in Sweden. The 579 specialists in psychiatry who answered the questionnaire, were under 65 years of age, worked mainly in psychiatric care, and had consultations involving sickness certification at least once a week were included.
The frequency of problematic sickness certification consultations a few times per year or more often was considered by 87.3% of the psychiatrists; 11.7% handle such cases at least once a week. A majority (60.9%) reported ‘not having enough time with the patient’ at least once a week. The psychiatrists had access to several categories of professionals in their daily work. More than one third certified unnecessarily long sick-leave periods at least once a month due to waiting times for Social Insurance Office investigations or for treatments or investigations within health care.
The majority found it problematic to assess the level and duration of work incapacity, but also other types of problems like unnecessarily long sick-leave periods due to different types of waiting times. The findings have implications for different kinds of organisational and managerial support and training in sickness certification issues, like guidance to assess the level and duration of work incapacity.
PMCID: PMC3480832  PMID: 23075202
Sickness certification; Psychiatry; Sick leave; Physician
7.  Short-term sick leave and future risk of sickness absence and unemployment - the impact of health status 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:861.
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.
PMCID: PMC3508966  PMID: 23050983
Short-term sick leave; Health status; Future sickness absence; Unemployment; Population-based study
8.  Struggling for existence—Life situation experiences of older persons with mental disorders 
Older persons with mental disorders represent a vulnerable group of people with extensive and complex needs. The older population is rapidly increasing worldwide and, as a result of deinstitutionalization in mental health care, older persons are remaining at home to a greater extent. Although they constitute a large proportion of the population, older persons with mental disorders have been neglected in research as well as in care organizations. As there is little previous knowledge concerning older persons’ experiences of their own situations, this study aimed to illuminate the meaning of the life situation as experienced by older persons with mental disorders (excluding dementia disorders). Interviews were conducted with seven older persons and the text was analyzed using a phenomenological hermeneutical research method, inspired by the philosophy of Paul Ricoeur. “Struggling for existence” emerged as a main theme in the older persons’ narratives, understood as a loss of dignity of identity and involving being troubled and powerless as well as yearning for respect. The older persons fought to master their existence and to be seen for who they are. The study highlights the importance for caregivers, both formal and informal, to avoid focusing on the diagnoses and rather acknowledge the older persons and their lifeworld, be present in the relation and help them rebuild their dignity of identity. This study brings a new understanding about older persons with mental disorders that may help reduce stigma and contribute to planning future mental health care.
PMCID: PMC3371755  PMID: 22693537
Aged; gerontology; mental disorders; municipal care of the old; phenomenological hermeneutics; psychiatry
9.  Is There an Association between Long-Term Sick Leave and Disability Pension and Unemployment beyond the Effect of Health Status? – A Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35614.
Studies have shown that long-term sick leave is a strong predictor of disability pension. However, few have aimed to disentangle the effect of sick leave and of health status.
The objective of this study was to investigate whether there is an association between long-term sick leave and disability pension and unemployment, when taking health status into account.
Methods/Principal Findings
The study was based on the Stockholm Public Health Cohort, restricted to 13,027 employed individuals (45.9% men) aged 18–59 in 2002 and followed until 2007.
Hazard ratios (HR) with 95% Confidence Interval (CI) were estimated by Cox regression models adjusting for socio-demographic factors and five measures of health status.
Having been on long-term sick leave increased the risk of disability pension (HR 4.01; 95% CI 3.19–5.05) and long-term unemployment (HR 1.45; 95% CI 1.05–2.00), after adjustment for health status. The analyses of long-term sick leave due to specific illness showed that the increased risk for long-term unemployment was confined to the group on sick leave due to musculoskeletal (HR 1.70 95% CI 1.00–2.89) and mental illness (HR 1.80 95% CI 1.13–2.88) and further that there was an increased risk for short-term unemployment in the group on sick leave due to mental illness (HR1.57 95%CI 1.09–2.26).
Long-term sick leave increases the risks of both disability pension and unemployment even when taking health status into account. The results support the hypothesis that long-term sick leave may start a process of marginalization from the labor market.
PMCID: PMC3338415  PMID: 22558176
10.  Physicians who experience sickness certification as a work environmental problem: where do they work and what specific problems do they have? A nationwide survey in Sweden 
BMJ Open  2012;2(2):e000704.
In a recent study, 11% of the Swedish physicians below 65 years dealing with sickness certification tasks (SCT) experienced SCT to a great extent as a work environment problem (WEP). This study aimed at exploring which SCT problems those physicians experienced and if these problems varied between general practitioners (GPs), psychiatrists, orthopaedists and physicians working at other types of clinics.
A cross-sectional nationwide questionnaire study.
All physicians working in Sweden in 2008.
The 1554 physicians <65 years old, working in a clinical setting, having SCT and stating SCT to a great extent being a WEP.
Outcome measures
Frequency of possibly problematic situations or lack of time, reasons for sickness certifying unnecessarily long, experience of difficulties in contacts with sickness insurance offices, and severity of experienced problems.
In all, 79% of this group of physicians experienced SCT as problematic at least once weekly, significantly higher proportion among GPs (p<0.001) and psychiatrists (p=0.005). A majority (at most 68.3%) experienced lack of time daily, when handling SCT, the proportion being significantly higher among orthopaedists (p=0.003, 0.007 and 0.011 on three respective items about lack of time). Among psychiatrists, a significantly higher proportion (p<0.001) stated wanting a patient coordinator. Also, GPs agreed to a higher extent (p<0.001) to finding 14 different SCT tasks as ‘very problematic’.
The main problem among physicians who experience SCT to a great extent as a WEP was lack of time related to SCT. The proportion of physicians experiencing problems varied in many aspects significantly between the different work clinics; however, GPs were among the highest in most types of problems. The results indicate that measures for improving physicians' sickness certification practices should be focused on organisational as well as professional level and that the needs in these aspects differ between specialties.
Article summary
Article focus
A study of the minority of physicians who state sickness certification tasks to a great extent being a work environment problem.
What problems do these physicians experience in relation to sickness certification?
Do the experienced problems vary with type of work clinic/specialty?
Key messages
A vast majority of these physicians experienced daily lack of time when handling sickness certification tasks.
About half of these physicians found it very problematic to assess level of work incapacity, to manage the two roles as the patient's physician and as a medical expert, and to provide the Social Insurance Office with more extensive sickness certificates.
Measures for improving physicians' sickness certification practices should be focused on organisational as well as professional levels and might need to differ between specialties.
Strengths and limitations of this study
The study was based on a questionnaire sent to all 37 000 physicians in a whole country, and the response rate (61%) could be regarded as relatively high.
Only one question about work environment was included.
PMCID: PMC3293140  PMID: 22382120
11.  Use and usefulness of guidelines for sickness certification: results from a national survey of all general practitioners in Sweden 
BMJ Open  2011;1(2):e000303.
Diagnoses-specific sickness certification guidelines were recently introduced in Sweden. The aim of this study was to investigate to which extent general practitioners (GPs) used these guidelines and how useful they found them, 1 year after introduction.
A cross-sectional questionnaire study. A comprehensive questionnaire about sickness certification practices in 2008 was sent to all physicians living and working in Sweden (n=36 898, response rate 60.6%). In all, 19.7% (n=4394) of the responders worked as GPs.
Primary healthcare in all Sweden.
The participating GPs who had consultations concerning sickness certification at least a few times a year (n=4278, 97%).
Main outcome measures
Descriptive statistics and prevalence ratios for the 11 questionnaire items about the use and usefulness of the sickness certification guidelines.
A majority (76.2%) of the GPs reported that they used the guidelines. In addition, 65.4% and 43.5% of those GPs reported that the guidelines had facilitated their contacts with patients and social insurance officers, respectively. The guidelines also helped nearly one-third (31.5%) of the GPs to develop their competence and improve the quality of their management of sickness certification consultations (33.5%). About half experienced some problems when using the guidelines and 43.7% wanted better competence in using them. A larger proportion of non-specialists and of GPs with fewer sickness certification consultations had benefitted from the guidelines.
The national sickness certification guidelines implemented in Sweden were widely used by GPs already a year after introduction. Also, the GPs consider the guidelines useful in several respects, for example, in patient contacts and for competence development.
Article summary
Article focus
Sweden recently introduced national sickness certification guidelines. We investigated:
To what extent did the general practitioners use them 1 year later?
How useful did the general practitioners find them?
Key messages
Already after 1 year, most general practitioners used the guidelines and benefited extensively from them
Two-thirds of the general practitioners reported that the guidelines had facilitated their patient contacts and one-third that it facilitated their contacts with social insurance, other healthcare staff and employers
One-third stated that the guidelines had been helpful in competence development and improved the quality of their management of sickness certification cases
Strengths and limitations of this study
Strengths were the large study group and that all general practitioners in Sweden were included. Also, internationally this is the, so far, without comparison largest study of general practitioner's sickness certification practices. However, the non-response rate of 39% was a limitation, and we have no way of knowing if the non-responders differed with regard to use of the guidelines. However, only 11 of the 163 items in the questionnaire concerned the guidelines, why there is no reason to believe that no response was related to use of the guidelines.
PMCID: PMC3244659  PMID: 22189350
12.  Frequency and severity of problems that general practitioners experience regarding sickness certification 
Tasks involved in sickness certification constitute potential problems for physicians. The objective in this study was to obtain more detailed knowledge about the problems that general practitioners (GPs) experience in sickness certification cases, specifically regarding reasons for issuing unnecessarily long sick-leave periods.
A cross-sectional national questionnaire study. Setting. Primary health care in Sweden.
The 2516 general practitioners (GPs), below 65 years of age, who had consultations involving sickness certification every week. This makes it the by far largest such study worldwide. The response rate among GPs was 59.9%.
Once a week, half of the GPs (54.5%) found it problematic to handle sickness certification, and one-fourth (25.9%) had a patient who wanted to be sickness absent for some reason other than medical work incapacity. Issues rated as problematic by many GPs concerned assessing work capacity, prognosticating the duration of incapacity, handling situations in which the GP and the patient had different opinions on the need for sick leave, and managing the two roles as physician for the patient and medical expert in writing certificates for other authorities. Main reasons for certifying unnecessarily long sick-leave periods were long waiting times in health care and in other organizations, and younger and male GPs more often reported doing this to avoid conflicts with the patient.
A majority of the GPs found sickness certification problematic. Most problems were related to professional competence in insurance medicine. Better possibilities to develop, maintain, and practise such professionalism are warranted.
PMCID: PMC3308465  PMID: 22126222
GP; physicians; primary health care; sickness certification; sick leave
13.  Being altruistically egoistic—Nursing aides’ experiences of caring for older persons with mental disorders 
Older persons with mental disorders, excluding dementia disorders, constitute a vulnerable group of people. With the future international increase in the older population, mental disorders will increase as well, thus entailing new challenges for their caregivers. These older persons often remain in their own homes, and in Sweden they are cared for by nursing aides. With little previous research, an increased workload and facing new strenuous situations, it is important to make use of the knowledge the nursing aides possess and to deepen the understanding of their experiences. The study aimed at illuminating the meaning of caring for older persons with mental disorders as experienced by nursing aides in the municipal home help service. Interviews with nine female nursing aides were performed and analysed with a phenomenological hermeneutical research method inspired by the philosophy of Paul Ricoeur. Being altruistically egoistic emerged as a main theme in the nursing aides’ narratives. The nursing aides’ experiences could be interpreted as a movement between being altruistic and egoistic. The findings revealed a continuous distancing by the nursing aides and their struggle to redress the balance between their altruistic and egoistic actions. Caring for these older persons constitutes a complex situation where distancing functions as a recourse to prioritize oneself and to diminish the value of caring. The study suggests that an increased knowledge base on older persons with mental disorders, followed by continuous supervision, is necessary for the nursing aides to improve the quality of the care given.
PMCID: PMC3193826  PMID: 22007261
Aged; care of older people; mental disorders; municipal care of the old; nursing aides; phenomenological hermeneutics
14.  Work-related psychosocial events as triggers of sick leave - results from a Swedish case-crossover study 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:175.
Although illness is an important cause of sick leave, it has also been suggested that non-medical risk factors may influence this association. If such factors impact on the period of decision making, they should be considered as triggers. Yet, there is no empirical support available.
The aim was to investigate whether recent exposure to work-related psychosocial events can trigger the decision to report sick when ill.
A case-crossover design was applied to 546 sick-leave spells, extracted from a Swedish cohort of 1 430 employees with a 3-12 month follow-up of new sick-leave spells. Exposure in a case period corresponding to an induction period of one or two days was compared with exposure during control periods sampled from workdays during a two-week period prior to sick leave for the same individual. This was done according to the matched-pair interval and the usual frequency approaches. Results are presented as odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI).
Most sick-leave spells happened in relation to acute, minor illnesses that substantially reduced work ability. The risk of taking sick leave was increased when individuals had recently been exposed to problems in their relationship with a superior (OR 3.63; CI 1.44-9.14) or colleagues (OR 4.68; CI 1.43-15.29). Individuals were also more inclined to report sick on days when they expected a very stressful work situation than on a day when they were not under such stress (OR 2.27; CI 1.40-3.70).
Exposure to problems in workplace relationships or a stressful work situation seems to be able to trigger reporting sick. Psychosocial work-environmental factors appear to have a short-term effect on individuals when deciding to report sick.
PMCID: PMC3072951  PMID: 21429193
15.  Sickness-certification practice in different clinical settings; a survey of all physicians in a country 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:752.
How physicians handle sickness-certification is essential in the sickness-absence process. Few studies have focused this task of physicians' daily work. Most previous studies have only included general practitioners. However, a previous study indicated that this is a common task also among other physicians. The aim of this study was to gain detailed knowledge about physicians' work with sickness-certification and of the problems they experience in this work.
A comprehensive questionnaire regarding sickness-certification practice was sent home to all physicians living and working in Sweden (N = 36,898; response rate: 61%). This study included physicians aged <65 years who had sickness-certification consultations at least a few times a year (n = 14,210). Descriptive statistics were calculated and odds ratios (OR) with 95 % confidence intervals (CI) were estimated for having different types of related problems, stratified on clinical settings, using physicians working in internal medicine as reference group.
Sickness-certification consultations were frequent; 67% of all physicians had such, and of those, 83% had that at least once a week. The proportion who had such consultations >5 times a week varied between clinical settings; from 3% in dermatology to 79% in orthopaedics; and was 43% in primary health care. The OR for finding sickness-certification tasks problematic was highest among the physicians working in primary health care (OR 3.3; CI 2.9-3.7) and rheumatology clinics (OR 2.6; CI 1.9-3.5). About 60% found it problematic to assess patients' work capacity and to provide a prognosis regarding the duration of work incapacity.
So far, most interventions regarding physicians' sickness-certification practices have been targeted towards primary health care and general practitioners. Our results indicate that the ORs for finding these tasks problematic were highest in primary health care. Nevertheless, physicians in some other clinical settings more often have such consultations and many of them also find these tasks problematic, e.g. in rheumatology, neurology, psychiatry, and orthopaedic clinics. Thus, the results indicate that much can be gained through focusing on physicians in other types of clinics as well, when planning interventions to improve sickness-certification practice.
PMCID: PMC3016384  PMID: 21129227
16.  Study circles improve the precision in nutritional care in special accommodations 
Food & Nutrition Research  2009;53:10.3402/fnr.v53i0.1950.
Disease-related malnutrition is a major health problem in the elderly population, but it has until recently received very little attention, especially are management issues under-explored. By identifying residents at the risk of undernutrition (UN), appropriate nutritional care can be provided.
To investigate if study circles and policy documents improve the precision in nutritional care and decrease the prevalence of low or high body mass index (BMI).
Pre and post-intervention study.
Special accommodations (nursing homes) within six municipalities were involved.
In 2005, 1,726 (90.4%) of 1,910 residents agreed to participate and in 2007, 1,526 (81.8%) of 1,866 residents participated.
Study circles in one municipality, having a policy document in one municipality and no intervention in four municipalities.
Risk of UN was defined as involving any of: involuntary weight loss; low BMI; and/or eating difficulties. Overweight was defined as high BMI.
In 2005 and 2007, 64% and 66% of residents, respectively, were at the risk of UN. In 2007, significantly more patients in the study circle municipality were accurately provided protein and energy enriched food (PE-food) compared to the no intervention municipalities. There was a decrease between 2005 and 2007 in the prevalence of low BMI in the study circle municipality, but the prevalence of overweight increased in the policy document municipality.
Study circles improve the provision of PE-food for residents at the risk of UN and can possibly decrease the prevalence of low BMI. It is likely that a combination of study circles and implementation of a policy document focusing on screening and on actions to take if the resident is at UN risk can give even better results.
PMCID: PMC2754113  PMID: 19798421
education; malnutrition; undernutrition; overweight; special accommodation; quality improvement
17.  Malnutrition prevalence and precision in nutritional care differed in relation to hospital volume – a cross-sectional survey 
Nutrition Journal  2009;8:20.
To explore the point prevalence of the risk of malnutrition and the targeting of nutritional interventions in relation to undernutrition risk and hospital volume.
A cross-sectional survey performed in nine hospitals including 2 170 (82.8%) patients that agreed to participate. The hospitals were divided into large, middle, and small sized hospitals. Undernutrition risk and overweight (including obesity) were assessed.
The point prevalence of moderate/high undernutrition risk was 34%, 26% and 22% in large, middle and small sized hospitals respectively. The corresponding figures for overweight were 38%, 43% and 42%. The targeting of nutritional interventions in relation to moderate/high undernutrition risk was, depending on hospital size, that 7–17% got Protein- and Energy Enriched food (PE-food), 43–54% got oral supplements, 8–22% got artificial nutrition, and 14–20% received eating assistance. Eating assistance was provided to a greater extent and artificial feeding to a lesser extent in small compared to in middle and large sized hospitals.
The prevalence of malnutrition risk and the precision in provision of nutritional care differed significantly depending on hospital volume, i.e. case mix. It can be recommended that greater efforts should be taken to increase the use of PE-food and oral supplements for patients with eating problems in order to prevent or treat undernutrition. A great effort needs to be taken in order to also decrease the occurrence of overweight.
PMCID: PMC2687453  PMID: 19422727

Results 1-17 (17)