The predictors of employee absence due to mental ill-health are: being over 50 years of age, having a high level of education, suffering from depression and having a high level of experienced symptoms. Employees
whose absence is caused by mental ill-health are twice as likely to lose their job. These are the findings of Giny Norder, an occupational physician at ArboNed and PhD student at the UMCG. Norder researched the factors that predict the duration of employee absence due to mental ill-health and the factors that are associated with a relapse. She will be awarded a PhD by the University of Groningen on 16 November.
Mental disorders are responsible for a large part of long-term absence and are the main reason why employees under the age of 55 are on the WIA sickness benefit. The aim of Norder’s research was to increase current knowledge of predictors of employee absence due to mental ill-health. ‘Knowledge of the risk factors will help occupational physicians refer people sooner to an appropriate treatment or intervention aimed at reducing long-term absence.’ Her research shows that the factors that predict an absence of longer than three months are: being over 50 years of age, having a high level of education, suffering from depression and having a high level of experienced symptoms.
Employees who are absent because of mental ill-health are more likely to lose their job: 18% of those studied lost their jobs over a period of five years compared with 9% of the employees who had not been absent because of mental ill-health. In her research Norder showed that in the first year of absence the employees themselves decide to leave the company, while in years 2–5 they are often dismissed because they are unable to do their work.
Employees still need support once they have recovered from mental ill-health. Norder’s research found that of a group of employees who recovered, 28% became absent again because of mental ill-health, often within 12 months. Of the employees in this group who were older than 55, the majority become ill again, often even within four months. Norder therefore argues for the proper monitoring of these employees’ mental health and performance at work. She says, ‘A good way to do this is through preventive appointments with the occupational physician. The physician can evaluate whether the work still corresponds with the employees’ abilities and values. Preventive medical examinations are also a good way to monitor people’s health.’
L Norder (Assen, 1965) studied medicine at the University of Groningen. She conducted her research at the UMCG’s SHARE research institute. Her dissertation is entitled: ‘Common mental disorders. Prediction of sickness absence durations and recurrences’. Norder works as an occupational physician at ArboNed.
Source: press release UMCG
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