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Return to work from long-term sick leave: a six-year prospective study of the importance of adjustment latitudes at work and home.

Journal article
Authors Lotta Dellve
Sara Larsson Fallman
Linda Åhlström
Published in International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Volume 89
Issue 1
Pages 171-179
ISSN 0340-0131
Publication year 2016
Published at
Pages 171-179
Language en
Keywords Sickness absence; Work ability; Return to work; Human service; Work adjustment
Subject categories Occupational medicine, Community medicine, Epidemiology


Purpose The aim was to investigate the long-term importance of adjustment latitude for increased work ability and return to work among female human service workers on long-term sick leave. Methods A cohort of female human service workers on long-term sick leave (>60 days) was given a questionnaire four times (0, 6, 12, 60 months). Linear mixed models were used for ongitudinal analysis of the repeated measurements of work ability and return to work. Results Having a higher level of adjustment latitude was associated with both increased work ability and return to work. Adjustments related to work pace were strongly associated with increased work ability, as were adjustments to the work place. Having individual opportunities for taking short breaks and a general acceptance of taking short breaks were associated with increased work ability. At home, a higher level of responsibility for household work was related to increased work ability and return to work. Individuals with possibilities for adjustment latitude, especially pace and place at work, and an acceptance of taking breaks had greater increased work ability over time and a greater work ability compared with individuals who did not have such opportunities. Conclusions This study highlights the importance of opportunities for adjustment latitude at work to increase work ability and return to work among female human service workers who have been on long-term sick leave. The results support push and pull theories for individual decision-making on return to work.

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