Objectives A comprehensive programme to facilitate return to work (RTW) was started in 2011 in a health care centre with a sustained impact until now. The objective of this study was to analyse time to RTW to guide interventions in more specific groups.
Methods The study population was a cohort of 5,881 health care workers in a large health institution during 2011 that includes two acute care centres, a psychiatry institute, one long term care centre, two schools of health studies and one research centre. Data on the study population and sickness absences (SA) were obtained through electronic records of Human Resources Department. Incidence of SA per 100 workers was described. Median SA durations and interquartile ranges were calculated using Wang-Chang estimator. Multilevel poisson-based conditional fragility models were used to calculate time to RTW hazard ratios (HRs) and associated 95% confidence intervals (CI95%). A HR lower than 1 expresses a longer duration of SA until RTW than the reference group.
Results A total 787 episodes of SA were identified, of which 608 (77%) lasted more than 7 days. Incidence of SA was higher in women, nurses’ aides and nurses, those with a permanent contract, in direct patient care, psychiatry and geriatrics, and increased with age. Differences within groups tended to be higher for long (>7 days) than short episodes. Regarding time to RTW, adjusted HRs (HRa) decreased for older workers (HRa 45–54years: 0.37; CI95% 0.19–0.37; HRa 55–64years: 0.27; CI95% 0.13–0.53), and were associated with holding a permanent contract (HRa 0.60; CI95% 0.39–0.91). Non statistically significant associations were found for sex, centre, occupation or type of care.
Conclusions Ageing population at work plays an important role and interventions to facilitate RTW are essential to maintain people active. Presenteeism or working even when having a health condition, should be seriously addressed.
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