Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2015;41(1):36-42    pdf full text


Screening manual and office workers for risk of long-term sickness absence: cut-off points for the Work Ability Index

by Schouten LS, Joling C, van der Gulden JWJ, Heymans MW, Bültmann U, Roelen CAM

Objectives The aim of this study was to investigate the Work Ability Index (WAI) as a tool to screen for risk of different durations of long-term sickness absence (LTSA) among manual and office workers.

Methods The prospective study comprised a cohort of 3049 (1710 manual and 1339 office) workers participating in occupational health surveys between 2010–2012. The survey date was set as baseline and incident LTSA episodes of different duration (>14, >28, >42, >60, and >90 days) were retrieved from an occupational health register in the year following the survey. Baseline WAI scores were associated with LTSA episodes occurring (no/yes) during one-year follow-up by logistic regression analysis in a random sample (N=1000) of the cohort. Predictions of LTSA risk were then validated among the workers not included in the random sample.

Results The odds of LTSA episodes at follow-up decreased with increasing baseline WAI scores (ie, better work ability). The WAI accurately predicted the risk of future LTSA episodes >28, >42, >60 days, but over-predicted the risk of LTSA episodes >14 and >90 days. The WAI discriminated between workers at high and low risk of LTSA episodes of all durations. Office workers had higher WAI scores than manual workers. Consequently, false-negative rates were higher among office workers and false-positive rates were higher among manual workers at each WAI cut-off point.

Conclusion The WAI could be used to screen both manual and office workers for risk of LTSA episodes lasting >28, >42, >60 days. WAI cut-off points depend on the objectives of screening and may differ for manual and office workers.

This article refers to the following texts of the Journal: 2006;32(1):75-84  2009;35(1):1-5  2009;35(5):325-333  2010;36(5):404-412  2014;40(4):428-431
The following articles refer to this text: 2015;41(3):324; 2015;41(3):322-323