OBJECTIVE: Comparing assessments of incapacity to work in patients with subjective health complaints (SHC) by physicians from 5 different European countries.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.
METHOD: General practitioners from Norway (n=56), Sweden (n=29), Denmark (n=41), France (n=46) and occupational and insurance physicians from the Netherlands (n=93) watched and assessed incapacity to work in nine video vignettes of patients with SHC. We subsequently analysed differences between assessments (whether or not there was incapacity to work) by country, with Norway as a reference, as well as differences between general practitioners from the four countries and occupational and insurance physicians using a generalised linear mixed model.
RESULTS: Assessments of incapacity to work by physicians from the 5 countries were generally very similar. However, compared to Norwegian general practitioners, Swedish general practitioners (odds ratio (OR) of 0.43 with 95% confidence interval (CI) of 0.23-0.79) and Dutch occupational and insurance physicians (OR of 0.55 with 95% CI of 0.36-0.86) concluded less often that the patients in the videos were unable to work. There were no differences between general practitioners from the other 2 European countries and those from Norway. The Dutch occupational and insurance physicians also concluded less often that there was an incapacity to work compared to all general practitioners from the other 4 European countries (OR of 0.67 with 95% CI of 0.49-0.93).
CONCLUSION: There are significant differences between assessments of incapacity to work in patients with SHC between countries and professional groups, but these differences are generally small. Potential explanations for these differences could be found in occupational and insurance medicine specialist training and in the existence of professional guidelines.
|Translated title of the contribution||Physicians' assessments of work capacity in patients with SHC: comparison between five European countries|
|Journal||Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde|
|Publication status||Published - 2017|