Introduction Work ability training provided by the Occupational Health Helsinki is a new group intervention for Helsinki’s municipal employees whose risk for poor work ability has increased. Participants are selected in occupational health receptions. Work ability training includes three groups: musculoskeletal symptoms, mental wellbeing and MBO risk. The aim is to find the best ways to support coping and personal change.
The work ability training starts with a 5 day rehabilitation period. Thereafter, the employee participates for group meetings for one year (total of 4 contacts), which are run by occupational healthcare coaches. The Occupational Health Helsinki evaluated the effectiveness of the work ability training on participants’ health, work ability and sickness absence.
Methods Participants’ work ability, self-efficacy, work-related well-being, lifestyle risks were measured with questionnaire before and after the work ability training in years 2014–2016 (n=676).
Analyses of the questionnaires were divided into three groups according to the objectives of the interventions. Sickness absences of those who participated in the 2014 (n=119) for one-year training were surveyed a year before (2013) and after training (2016). Comparisons were made between the changes in two groups: participation 3–4 times and 0–2 times. The statistical significance limit was set at p<0.05 for all analyses. Data were analysed using SPSS.
Results Sickness absenteeism was reduced 19% only by those who participated actively in full-year coaching (n=81), absenteeism was increased 34% by those who only participated in the rehabilitation period (n=38). Despite a large percentage change, the result was not statistically significant.
Perceived work ability and recovery improved, depression risk, insomnia and fatigue, stress and prolonged pain decreased in all groups. Changes were statistically significant (p<0,05).
Conclusion Commitment to work ability training provided by occupational healthcare is effective in improving work ability and reducing sickness absence and health risks.