Occupational health physicians have better work conditions for handling sickness certification compared with general practitioners: results from a nationwide survey in Sweden.Scand J Public Health 2015; 43(1):35-43SJ
To study whether occupational health physicians (OPs) have a better work situation regarding handling of sickness certification compared with other physicians, in particular general practitioners (GPs), and to analyze associations between OPs' experiences of assessing and providing a long-term prognosis of patients' work capacity and some potentially interrelated factors.
Answers to a nationwide survey from physicians who had sickness certification consultations at least once monthly were analyzed. Differences among OPs (n=481), GPs (n=4257) and physicians working in other clinical settings (n=9452) were estimated by chi square tests. Associations between OPs' experiences as above and potentially interrelated factors were estimated using logistic regression analyses.
Among OPs, a lower proportion experienced clinical work situations related to sickness certifications as 'very problematic', compared with the other physicians, and especially so compared with GPs. A higher proportion of OPs also had organizational support for handling sickness certifications. For OPs, experience of sickness certification consultations as problematic once a month or less often, not experiencing sickness certification tasks as a work environment problem, and having a well-established workplace policy regarding sickness certification matters were significantly positively associated with finding assessing and providing a long-term prognosis of work capacity as 'not at all/somewhat problematic'.
OPs' work situation regarding sickness certifications was favorable compared with that of other physicians, and especially compared with that of GPS. Our results underline the importance of organizational support for ensuring physicians' experience of having professional competence in handling assessments of patients' work capacity.