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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

Mental health symptoms identify workers at risk of long-term sickness absence due to mental disorders: prospective cohort study with 2-year follow-up

Zeitschrift:
BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Autoren:
Marieke F. A. van Hoffen, Catelijne I Joling, Martijn W. Heymans, Jos W. R. Twisk, Corné A. M. Roelen
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

MvH conceived and designed the study, interpreted the data, drafted the manuscript and gave final approval of the version to be published. CI acquired the data, revised the manuscript for important intellectual content and gave final approval of the version to be published. MH analyzed and interpreted the data, revised the manuscript for important intellectual content and gave final approval of the version to be published. JT conceived and designed the study, revised the manuscript for important intellectual content and gave final approval of the version to be published. CR conceived and designed the study, analyzed and interpreted the data, drafted the manuscript and gave final approval of the version to be published. All authors agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Authors’ information

MvH works as an occupational physician at ArboNed Occupational Health Services and is a PhD student at the department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics of the VU University Medical Center.
CI heads the Research and Development department of ArboNed Occupational Health Services.
MW works as assistant professor at the department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics of the VU University Medical Center and has expertise in the development and validation of prediction models.
JT is a full professor at the department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics of the VU University Medical Center.
CR works as an occupational physician at ArboNed Occupational Health Services and is affiliated as epidemiologist at the department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics of the VU University Medical Center.

Abstract

Background

Mental health problems are a leading cause of long-term sickness absence (LTSA). Workers at risk of mental LTSA should preferably be identified before they report sick. The objective of this study was to examine mental health symptoms as predictors of future mental LTSA in non-sicklisted workers.

Methods

Prospective cohort study of 4877 non-sicklisted postal workers. Mental health symptoms were measured at baseline in November 2010 with the Four-Dimensional Symptom Questionnaire (distress and depressed mood) and Maslach’s Burnout Inventory (fatigue). Mental health symptom scores were analyzed against incident mental LTSA retrieved from an occupational health register in 2011 and 2012. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) represented the ability of mental health symptom scores to discriminate between workers with and without mental LTSA during 2-year follow-up.

Results

Complete cases analysis included 2782 (57 %) postal workers of whom 73 had mental LTSA during 2-year follow-up. Distress fairly (AUC = 0.75; 95 % CI 0.67–0.82) and both depressed mood (AUC = 0.64; 95 % CI 0.57–0.72) and fatigue (AUC = 0.61; 95 % CI 0.53–0.69) poorly discriminated between workers with and without mental LTSA during 2-year follow-up. The discriminative ability of distress did not improve by adding depressed mood and fatigue.

Conclusions

Measurement of distress sufficed to identify non-sicklisted postal workers at risk of future mental LTSA. The Four-Dimensional Symptom Questionnaire distress scale is a promising tool to screen working populations for of mental LTSA, which enables secondary preventive strategies.
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