Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2013;39(1):37-45    pdf full text


Health-related effects of early part-time sick leave due to musculoskeletal disorders: a randomized controlled trial

by Shiri R, Kausto J, Martimo K-P, Kaila-Kangas L, Takala E-P, Viikari-Juntura E

Objective Previously we reported that early part-time sick leave enhances return to work (RTW) among employees with musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). This paper assesses the health-related effects of this intervention.

Methods Patients aged 18–60 years who were unable to perform their regular work due to MSD were randomized to part- or full-time sick leave groups. In the former, workload was reduced by halving working time. Using validated questionnaires, we assessed pain intensity and interference with work and sleep, region-specific disability due to MSD, self-rated general health, health-related quality of life (measured via EuroQol), productivity loss, depression, and sleep disturbance at baseline, 1, 3, 8, 12, and 52 weeks. We analyzed the repeated measures data (171–356 observations) with the generalized estimating equation approach.

Results The intervention (part-time sick leave) and control (full-time sick leave) groups did not differ with regard to pain intensity, pain interference with work and sleep, region-specific disability, productivity loss, depression, or sleep disturbance. The intervention group reported better self-rated general health (adjusted P=0.07) and health-related quality of life (adjusted P=0.02) than the control group. In subgroup analyses, the intervention was more effective among the patients whose current problem began occurring <6 weeks before baseline and those with ≤30% productivity loss at baseline.

Conclusions Our findings showed that part-time sick leave did not exacerbate pain-related symptoms and functional disability, but improved self-rated general health and health-related quality of life in the early stage of work disability due to MSD.

This article refers to the following texts of the Journal: 1996;22(4):251-259  2008;34(4):239-249  2008;34(6):430-437  2010;36(1):25-33  2012;38(2):134-143  2012;38(2):89-91
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