Work-related sickness absence as reported by UK general practitioners

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid


Background Issues surrounding sickness absence are of interest due to growing awareness of the costs to employers and the UK economy, a greater understanding of the interaction between health and work, and increasing evidence that work is beneficial to physical and mental well-being. The Health & Occupation Reporting network in General Practice (THOR-GP) is a national source of information on work-related sickness absence.

Aims To assess the factors influencing work-related sickness absence in the UK.

Methods General practitioners (GPs) report cases of work-related ill-health via an online web form. Sickness absence information reported with each case was compared by demographic information, diagnosis/symptom and employment factors.

Results Between 2006 and 2009, THOR-GP received 5683 case reports of work-related ill-health; 53% were musculoskeletal diagnoses and 31% were mental ill-health diagnoses. Over half (56%) of cases reported had associated sickness absence. Diagnosis had a highly significant influence on the occurrence of any associated sickness absence. Eighty-one per cent of mental ill-health cases were reported to result in sickness absence compared to 50% of musculoskeletal cases. Public sector employees incurred sickness absence more frequently than those from the private sector. Industries with the highest mental ill-health incidence rates had sickness absence episodes most frequently. Within employment groups, levels of sickness absence were inversely proportional to the level of self-employment.

Conclusions These data reported by GPs with vocational training in occupational medicine may help to inform policy decisions targeting work-related exposures and the management of sickness absence, thereby reducing the UK burden of work-related sickness absence.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles