Workplace flexibility important for part-time sick leave selection—an exploratory cross-sectional study of long-term sick listed in Norway
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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OriginalversjonBMC Public Health. 2021, 21, . 10.1186/s12889-021-10778-w
Background Part-time sick leave (PTSL) where sick-listed individuals work a percentage corresponding to their remaining work capabilities is often used to promote return to work. The effects of PTSL are uncertain due to participant selection on personal and social factors, which are not easily captured by evaluations that primarily rely on register-data. More knowledge of health-related, workplace and personal characteristics that influence the propensity to utilize PTSL is needed. The objective of the present study was to explore whether individuals on PTSL and full-time sick leave (FTSL) differ in terms of self-reported health, workplace resources and psychological resilience while also considering known sociodemographic factors that influence PTSL selection. Methods The study utilized a cross-sectional sample of 661 workers sick listed for 8 weeks with a 50–100% sick-listing degree. Differences between those on PTSL and FTSL with regard to current self-reported health, previous long-term sick leave, workplace adjustment latitude, psychosocial work environment, work autonomy, coping with work demands, and psychological resilience were examined and adjusted for known selection factors (age, education, gender, sector, diagnosis, and physical work) using logistic regression. Results An inverse U-shaped curvilinear association between self-reported health and PTSL was identified. Those on PTSL also reported greater workplace adjustment latitude and better psychosocial work environment than those on FTSL. These differences persisted after adjusting for previously known selection factors. Furthermore, the PTSL group reported more work autonomy and poorer coping with work demands, but these differences were more uncertain after adjustment. The groups did not differ in terms of previous long-term sick leave or psychological resilience. Conclusion The present study found differences between those on PTSL and FTSL with regards to self-reported health, workplace adjustment latitude and psychosocial work environment that were independent of differences identified in previous research. These results are important for future evaluations of the effect of PTSL on RTW, suggesting more attention should be paid to self-reported health status and workplace characteristics that are not captured using register data.