Workers' opinions on the effect of contact with health care providers on sickness absence duration
Background: Because of the aging working population and the increasing age of retirement the number of workers with chronic illnesses and disabilities is growing. It is important that workers with health complaints receive efficient health care in order to remain fully or at least partly productive. Objective: To explore workers' opinions about the effectiveness of contact with health care providers in shortening sickness absence duration. Methods: Data come from a four-wave study from 2005 to 2008 among Dutch workers (n=1,424). Data were obtained on visits to health care providers, sickness absence and workers' opinions on whether and how their absence could have been shortened. Results: A third of the workers were of the opinion that the health care provider (most often the general practitioner, GP) had played a role in preventing sickness absence and 35% were of the opinion that the health care provider had limited their absence. Most often the physical therapist (71%) and mental health therapist (61%) shortened sickness absence duration, in contrast to the occupational physician (OP, 25%) and GP (32%). The effectiveness of the health care providers' treatment was associated with the cause of sickness absence. Approximately 15% of the workers reported that their sickness absence could have been shortened if health care providers had provided the proper treatment and if waiting times had been reduced. Conclusions: Health care providers differ in their potential to shorten sickness absence duration. Health care providers can further reduce sickness absence and health care costs by providing the proper treatment and by reducing waiting times.
To reference this document use:
WHC - Work, Health and Care
ELSS - Earth, Life and Social Sciences
Work and Employment
Work, 49 (3), 495-504