Influence of Efforts of Employer and Employee on Return-to-Work Process and Outcomes

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Abstract

Background

Research on disability and RTW outcome has led to significant advances in understanding these outcomes, however, limited studies focus on measuring the RTW process. After a prolonged period of sickness absence, the assessment of the RTW process by investigating RTW Effort Sufficiency (RTW-ES) is essential. However, little is known about factors influencing RTW-ES. Also, the correspondence in factors determining RTW-ES and RTW is unknown. The purpose of this study was to investigate 1) the strength and relevance of factors related to RTW-ES and RTW (no/partial RTW), and 2) the comparability of factors associated with RTW-ES and with RTW.

Methods

During 4 months, all assessments of RTW-ES and RTW (no/partial RTW) among employees applying for disability benefits after 2 years of sickness absence, performed by labor experts at 3 Dutch Social Insurance Institute locations, were investigated by means of a questionnaire.

Results

Questionnaires concerning 415 cases were available. Using multiple logistic regression analysis, the only factor related to RTW-ES is a good employer-employee relationship. Factors related to RTW (no/partial RTW) were found to be high education, no previous periods of complete disability and a good employer-employee relationship.

Conclusions

Different factors are relevant to RTW-ES and RTW, but the employer-employee relationship is relevant for both. Considering the importance of the assessment of RTW-ES after a prolonged period of sickness absence among employees who are not fully disabled, this knowledge is essential for the assessment of RTW-ES and the RTW process itself.

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