Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 181–191 | Cite as

Return to work and adjustment latitude among employees on long-term sickness absence

  • Gun Johansson
  • Olle Lundberg
  • Ingvar Lundberg


Introduction: The aim was to study whether return to work (RTW) after long-term sickness absence is affected by adjustment latitude i.e. opportunities to adjust one's work to one's state of health by e.g. choosing among work tasks and deciding about work pace and working hours. We also studied whether the effect of adjustment latitude differed between those returning full-time and those returning part-time. Methods: Differences between men and women were also studied. A questionnaire was sent to 5,590 salaried employees who had been on sick leave for at least 90 days in 2000. The year after, 2001, they received a questionnaire which included questions about work status, working conditions, adjustment latitude and health. Results: The questionnaire was returned from 3056 persons. Among women 32% were fully back to work, 34% were partly back and 34% were still on sick leave. Comparable figures for men were 33%, 32% and 36%. Conclusion: For both men and women the likelihood to RTW increased with increasing number of opportunities to adjust. Adjustment latitude increased returning to part-time as well as full-time work. The study indicates that work organisation is important for RTW.


Adjustment latitude Flexibility Return to work Work organisation 



Financial support was provided by Alecta Pension Insurance Mutual.


  1. 1.
    Statistiska centralbyrån. Vad påverkar sjukskrivningarna. Registerstudie av hur sjukpenningkostnaderna utvecklats 1993–2001. Demografisk rapport 2004:2. (Statistics Sweden, What affects sick leave. A register study of the development of sick leave costs 1993–2001. Demographic reports 2004:2).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Riksförsäkringsverket. Långtidssjukskrivna-egenskaper vid 2003 års RFV-LS-undersökning. RFV redovisar 2003:4 (Long-term-sick. The National Social Insurance Board, Sweden).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Reiso H, Nygård JF, Jorgensen GS, Holanger R, Soldal D, Bruusgaard D. Back to work: Predictors of return to work among patients with back disorder certified as sick. Spine 2003;28:1468–74.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Haldorsen EM, Indahl A, Ursin H. Patients with low back pain not returning to work: a 12-month follow-up study. Spine 1998;23:1202–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Tuomi K, Ilmarinen J, Jahkola A, Katajarinne L, Tulkki A. Work Ability Index. Helsinki: Institute of Occupational Health, 1994.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Johansson G, Lundberg I. Adjustment latitude and attendance requirements as determinants of sickness absence or attendance. Empirical tests of the illness flexibility model. Soc Sci Med 2004;58:1857–68.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Krause N, Dasinger LK, Deegan LJ, Rudolph L, Brand RJ. Psychosocial job factors and return-to-work after compensated low back injury: A disability phase-specific analysis. Am J Ind Med 2001;40:374–92.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Infante-Rivard C, Lortie M. Prognostic factors for return to work after a first compensated episode of back pain. Occup Environ Med 1996;53:488–94.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Detaille SI, Haafkens JA, van Dijk FJH. What employees with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus and hearing loss need to cope at work. Scand J Work Environ Health 2004;29:134–42.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Riksförsäkringsverket. Långtidssjukskrivna-diagnos, yrke, partiell sjukskrivning och återgång i arbete. RFV redovisar 2004:7 (Long-term-sick. The National Social Insurance Board, Sweden).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Janssen N, Van den Heuvel WPM, Beurskens AJHM, Nijhuis FJN, Schröer CAP, van Eijk JTM. The demand-control support model as a predictor of return to work. Int J Rehabil Res 2003;26:1–8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Karasek R. Job demands, job decision latitude, and mental strain: Implications for job redesign. Adm Sci Q 1979;24:285–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ahlberg-Hultén G. Psychological demands and decision latitude within health care work. Dissertation. Department of Psychology. Stockholm University,1999.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Van der Giezen AM, Bouter LM, Nijhuis FJN. Prediction of return-to-work of low back pain patients sicklisted for 3–4 months. Pain 2000;87:285–94.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Krause N, Dasinger LK, Neuhauser F. Modified work and return to work: a review of the literature. J Occup Rehabil 1998;8:113–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Franche R-L, Krause N. Readiness for return to work following injury or illness: Conceptualizing the interpersonal impact of health care, work place and insurance factors. J Occup Rehabil 2002;12:233–56.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Occupational Medicine, Department of Public Health SciencesKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Centre for Equity StudiesStockholm University/Karolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden
  3. 3.National Institute for Working LifeStockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations