Predicting Return to Work in Workers with All-Cause Sickness Absence Greater than 4 Weeks: A Prospective Cohort Study

M.C. Vlasveld, C. van der Feltz-Cornelis, U. Bultmann, A.T.F. Beekman, W. van Mechelen, R. Hoedeman, J.R. Anema

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Introduction Long-term sickness absence is a major public health and economic problem. Evidence is lacking for factors that are associated with return to work (RTW) in sick-listed workers. The aim of this study is to examine factors associated with the duration until full RTW in workers sick-listed due to any cause for at least 4 weeks. Methods In this cohort study, health-related, personal and job-related factors were measured at entry into the study. Workers were followed until 1 year after the start of sickness absence to determine the duration until full RTW. Cox proportional hazards regression analyses were used to calculate hazard ratios (HR). Results Data were collected from N = 730 workers. During the first year after the start of sickness absence, 71% of the workers had full RTW, 9.1% was censored because they resigned, and 19.9% did not have full RTW. High physical job demands (HR .562, CI .348-.908), contact with medical specialists (HR .691, CI .560-.854), high physical symptoms (HR .744, CI .583-.950), moderate to severe depressive symptoms (HR .748, CI .569-.984) and older age (HR .776, CI .628-.958) were associated with a longer duration until RTW in sick-listed workers. Conclusions Sick-listed workers with older age, moderate to severe depressive symptoms, high physical symptoms, high physical job demands and contact with medical specialists are at increased risk for a longer duration of sickness absence. OPs need to be aware of these factors to identify workers who will most likely benefit from an early intervention
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-126
JournalJournal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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