Sick leave assessments of workers with subjective health complaints: a cross-sectional study on differences among physicians working in occupational health care

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Abstract

Aims: To obtain more insight into differences in sick leave assessments of workers with subjective health complaints, we studied sick leave assessments among Dutch occupational and insurance physicians, and explored possible determinants for these differences. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 50 occupational and 43 insurance physicians in the Netherlands. They all assessed sick leave (complete, partial or no) of nine video case vignettes of workers with subjective health complaints and gave their opinion on the complaints, sick leave and health status. Data were analyzed via a multinomial regression approach, using generalized estimating equations in SPSS. Results: Compared to occupational physicians, complete sick leave was less likely to be assessed by insurance physicians (odds ratio 0.74, 95% confidence interval 0.56–0.97). For occupational physicians, psychological diagnoses, private issues and reduced work ability had more influence on the outcome of the sick leave assessment than for insurance physicians. Conclusion: There are differences in sick leave assessments for workers with subjective health complaints between physicians working in the same occupational health system; insurance physicians are stricter in assessing complete sick leave than occupational physicians. These differences may be explained by differences in roles, tasks and perspectives of the physician in occupational health care.Implications for Rehabilitation   Sick leave assessments of workers with subjective health complaints.   • The current study showed that there are differences between occupational physicians and insurance physicians in sick leave assessments for workers with subjective health complaints.   • These differences may be based on different perspectives, roles and tasks of physicians.   • Physicians working in the rehabilitation and occupational health system should be more aware of the impact of these differences on their assessments and advices.   • Better communication and collaboration between physicians, and more insight into and clarification of the perspectives may result in more agreement between physicians’ sick leave assessment and advice towards workers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019

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