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GP and patient predictions of sick-days duration Jun 25th, 2014


In general practice, sick-listing (give days off work) is a frequent and cost-generating measure often experienced as problematic for the doctor. One reason is that sick-listing involves assessment of how the symptoms reduce the patient’s ability to work, requiring physicians to rely on the patient’s own description of the job and his/her capacity to do it. From the patient’s point of view, the sick note is important if his/her self-perceived ability to work is low. Without the note the patient must keep on working, and patients often worry that working may affect their health negatively. Thus, consultations involving sick-listing assessment involve several difficult considerations on the part of both the physician andthe patient.

In this study the correspondence between the patients’ and the GPs’ perception of the duration of sick-listing was not high. Furthermore, the correspondence between the patients’ and GPs’ respective predictions of sick-listing duration, made at the first consultation, and the respective actual duration was rather low. 


Many other factors besides the employee's medical conditions– e.g. organizational, work-environmental, and social. These factors might be hard to take into consideration at the first consultation, and might not become evident until after several visits. Early in the process, medical factors might be more important for both the physician and the patient, and only a brief consultation may be made regarding workplace factors. This seems to be a relevant approach; however, being sick-listed might in itself influence the patient ’ s motivation and confidence in returning to work. It is important to address issues related to occupation and the workplace early in the consultation to support the process of returning to work efficiently. This can be assisted by the Injury Management Co-ordinator attending initital medical appointments, or providing your employees a preferred medical provider

In the present study, the overall correspondence between the GPs ’ prediction of the interval until return to work and the actual duration of sick-listing was not high on the whole. It is possible that the patients ’ expectations might have affected the interval until their return to work. Patient expectations and a focus on return to work is important to promote from the first medical appointment.


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