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

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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.

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Financial support was provided by Alecta Pension Insurance Mutual.

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Correspondence to Gun Johansson.

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Johansson, G., Lundberg, O. & Lundberg, I. Return to work and adjustment latitude among employees on long-term sickness absence. J Occup Rehabil 16, 181–191 (2006).

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