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01.09.2014 | Ausgabe 3/2014

Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation 3/2014

Experiences of Work and Sickness Absence in Employees with Depression: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation > Ausgabe 3/2014
Anna Sallis, Richard Birkin
Wichtige Hinweise
Views expressed in this report are not necessarily those of the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department of Health or any other Government Department.


Purpose: The experience of employment with depression is explored to develop understanding of the mediators that may influence the management of depression-related sickness absence and improve theoretical understanding. Method: Data were collected from seven semi-structured interviews and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis used to explore the data. Results: Three interrelated themes were drawn from the participants’ accounts: (1) the interaction between depression and work; (2) illness beliefs; and (3) organisational context and depression. The analysis revealed that participants appeared to hold five key perceptions about their depression and work: low control in the workplace; lack of line manager support; diminishing ability to work; the need to address depressive symptoms; and perceptions of depression. Their strength resulted in individuals reaching sickness absence thresholds. The themes and participants’ accounts of their work and sickness absence and return to work behaviour are discussed in relation to relevant theory and evidence to understand how these perceptions and beliefs mediate behaviour. Conclusion: Individuals’ health (illness representations) and work beliefs (outcome expectancies and self-efficacy for work tasks and management of health at work) appear to influence individuals’ sickness absence decisions and experiences and these are mediated by individuals’ experiences of organisational policies, line manager support and the messages and actions of GPs.

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