Exclusive joint research from The At Work Partnership and the Work Foundation provides concrete evidence that the reason someone takes long-term sickness absence and remains off sick, isn’t just down to the diagnosis given on the fit note or sick certificate.
This biopsychosocial survey of long-term sickness absence demonstrates that while the initial diagnosis is relevant in triggering the initial absence other factors are often involved. Importantly, ‘psychosocial’ factors – such as the employee believing their ill health is caused or made worse by work, poor support from the manager and disciplinary issues – are also important in triggering and prolonging the absence.
Stress and mental health were the most common reasons for long-term sickness absence referrals to occupational health, followed by combined musculoskeletal and stress/mental health conditions. Musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain were the third most common reason for long-term sickness absence referrals to OH.
Report co-author Dr John Ballard said: ‘The findings reported in our exclusive survey confirm that the causes of long-term sickness absence can be complex and that multiple medical and psychosocial issues need to be considered in its management.’
Further details about this research can be found on The At Work Partnership’s website.