Work-relatedness of the presented health problem and sickness absence

Cornelis A de Kock, Peter L Lucassen, Reinier P Akkermans, J André Knottnerus, Peter C Buijs, Romy Steenbeek, Antoine L Lagro-Janssen
Family Practice 2019 November 20

BACKGROUND: Perception by workers of their health problems as work-related is possibly associated with sickness absence (SA). The aim of this study was to to study the relationship between perceived work-relatedness of health problems and SA among workers who visit their GP, taking the influence of other potential determinants into account and to study the influence of these determinants on SA. Design and setting prospective cohort study in 32 Dutch GP practices.

METHODS: A secondary analysis of RCT data among workers, aged 18-63 years, who visited their GP. We measured self-reported SA days in 12 months and high SA (>20 days in 12 months) and compared workers who perceived work-relatedness (WR+) with workers who did not (WR-). With multivariable linear and logistic regression models, we analyzed the influence of age, gender, experienced health, chronic illness, prior SA, number of GP consultations and perceived work ability.

RESULTS: We analyzed data of 209 workers, 31% perceived work-relatedness. Geometric mean of SA days was 1.6 (95% CI: 0.9-3.0) for WR+- workers and 1.2 (95% CI: 0.8-1.8) for WR- workers (P = 0.42). Incidence of high SA was 21.5 and 13.3%, respectively (odds ratio 1.79; 95% CI: 0.84-3.84). SA was positively associated with chronic illness, prior SA, low perceived work ability and age over 50.

CONCLUSIONS: Perceived work-relatedness was not associated with SA. SA was associated with chronic illness, prior SA, low perceived work ability and age over 50.

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