Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Original article
NIPSA: a new scale for measuring non-illness predictors of sickness absence
  1. Samuel B Harvey1,2,3,
  2. Min-Jung Wang2,4,
  3. Sarah Dorrington1,5,
  4. Max Henderson1,6,
  5. Ira Madan7,
  6. Stephani L Hatch1,
  7. Matthew Hotopf1,5
  1. 1 King’s College London, Institute of Psychiatry Psychology and Neuroscience, London, UK
  2. 2 School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
  3. 3 Black Dog Institute, Sydney, Australia
  4. 4 Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  5. 5 South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  6. 6 Leeds and York Partnership NHSFT, Leeds, UK
  7. 7 Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust and King’s College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Samuel B Harvey, Head of Workplace Mental Health Research Program, Black Dog Institute, University of New South Wales Randwick NSW 2031, Australia; s.harvey{at}


Objectives We describe the development and initial validation of a new scale for measuring non-illness factors that are important in predicting occupational outcomes, called the NIPSA (non-illness predictors of sickness absence) scale.

Methods Forty-two questions were developed which covered a broad range of potential non-illness-related risk factors for sickness absence. 682 participants in the South East London Community Health study answered these questions and a range of questions regarding both short-term and long-term sickness absence. Factor analysis was conducted prior to examining the links between each identified factor and sickness absence outcomes.

Results Exploratory factor analysis using the oblique rotation method suggested the questionnaire should contain 26 questions and extracted four factors with eigenvalues greater than 1: perception of psychosocial work environment (factor 1), perceived vulnerability (factor 2), rest-focused attitude towards recovery (factor 3) and attitudes towards work (factor 4). Three of these factors (factors 1, 2 and 3) showed significant associations with long-term sickness absence measures (p<0.05), meaning a final questionnaire that included 20 questions with three subscales.

Conclusions The NIPSA is a new tool that will hopefully allow clinicians to quickly assess for the presence of non-illness factors that may be important in predicting occupational outcomes and tailor treatments and interventions to address the barriers identified. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that a scale focused on transdiagnostic, non-illness-related predictors of sickness absence has been developed.

  • Sickness absence
  • return to work
  • psychosocial work environment
  • vulnerability
  • rest
  • recovery
  • work
  • occupational outcomes

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors The idea for a new scale measuring non-illness predictors of sickness absence was developed by SBH in consultation with MHe and MHo. M-JW undertook the analysis. SLH, IM, MHe, SD, MHo and SBH assisted M-JW with the interpretation of the results. All authors contributed to the manuscript preparation.

  • Funding This paper represents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London. The research was further supported by the Biomedical Research Nucleus joint infrastructure grant from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and the Maudsley Charity, NSW Health Australia and by the Economic and Social Research Council (grant number RES-177-25-0015). SBH and M-JW were funded by NSW Health. SD was funded by the Donald Dean Research Fellowship in Work and Mental Health, awarded by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

  • Disclaimer The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. None of the funders had any role in the study design, collection, analysis, interpretation of data, writing of the manuscript or the decision to submit this manuscript for publication.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval King’s College London research ethics committee for non-clinical research populations: reference CREC/07/08-152.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.