Adjustment latitude among employees, i.e. adjusting work to individual’s health capacity, has been associated with successful return to work (RTW) in cross-sectional studies. The aim is to investigate the long-term importance of adjustment latitude at the workplace and at home, as well as attitudes (own and colleagues) for increased work ability (WA), working degree (WD) and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among female human service workers (HSW) on long-term sick leave in Sweden.
A cohort of female HSW (n=324) on long-term sick leave (>60 day) received a questionnaire at four times (0, 6, 12, 60 months). Prevalence ratios (PR) were used to examine possible relationships between explanatory factors and outcomes. Linear mixed models were used for longitudinal analysis of the repeated measurements of WA Score (0-10), WD (0-100%) and HRQoL (0-100). Analyses were performed with different models; the explanatory variables for each model were adjustment latitude, attitudes towards breaks at work, shared or single household and amount of household work.
Having more adjustment latitude at work was associated with both increased WA and RTW compared to having few adjustment latitude opportunities. Adjustments related to working-pace were strongly associated with increased WD (PR 3.29(95%CI=1.71-6.26)), as were adjustments to working-place. Having opportunities to take short breaks at work, and a general acceptance at work to take short breaks was associated with increased WA. At home, a higher responsibility for household work (PR 1.98(95%CI=1.33-2.95)) was related to increased WA and RTW. Individuals with possibilities for adjustment latitude, especially pace and place, at work, and an acceptance to take breaks at work, increased in WA score significantly more over time and had higher WA score compared with individuals not having such opportunities at work. These prospective results were similar for the outcome WD and HRQoL.
The results highlight the importance of possibilities for adjustment latitude at work and at home, as well as accepting attitudes to take short breaks to increase WA and RTW among female human service workers previously on long-term sick leave.
3 rd WDPI Conference: Implementing Work Disability Prevention Knowledge, Toronto, Canada, 28 sept – 1 October, 2014