Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 167–176 | Cite as

Employer, Insurance, and Health System Response to Long-Term Sick Leave in the Public Sector: Policy Implications

  • Bodil Heijbel
  • Malin Josephson
  • Irene Jensen
  • Eva Vingård


This study has been conducted to describe the situation of long-term sick-listed persons employed in the public sector regarding the medical reasons of their sick leave, the duration of their problems, the duration of the actual sick leave, rehabilitation support, rehabilitation measures, and the persons expectations of the future. Response rate of a postal questionnaire, where 484 women and 51 men on long-term sick leave answered, was 69%. The study-group consisted of 90% women with a median age of 50 years. The most common reasons for sick listing were long-lasting musculoskeletal problems, especially neck/shoulder pain, low back pain and osteoarthritis or other joint problems and mental problems, especially depression and burn-out syndromes. Forty-seven procent of the men and 57% of the women had been on the sick list for more than a year. Only half of them had been subjected to the legally required rehabilitation investigation of the employer. This half got access to rehabilitation programs and/or vocational rehabilitation to a greater extent than those who not had been subjected to rehabilitation investigation. Less than half had been in contact with the workplace-connected rehabilitation actors, the Occupational Health Service or the Trade Union. In spite of this the sick-listed persons had a positive view of their future return to work. For long-term sick-listed persons in the public sector, there is a great potential for improvements of the rehabilitation at the workplace arena, in the involvement and cooperation between the already existing rehabilitation actors, in order to promote return to work.


sick leave treatment rehabilitation vocational rehabilitation occupational medicine 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bodil Heijbel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Malin Josephson
    • 1
  • Irene Jensen
    • 1
  • Eva Vingård
    • 1
  1. 1.Karolinska InstitutetSection for Personal Injury PreventionStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Karolinska InstitutetSection for Personal Injury PreventionStockholmSweden

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