APH 2003, 61, 271-281:

The satisfaction of the employee on sick leave with the occupational physician.

A.K. Mortelmans, P. Donceel, D. Lahaye

Keywords: sick leave, doctor-patient relationship, occupational physician


The aim of this publication is to describe the satisfaction with the occupational physician of employees on sick leave In Belgium.

In a cross sectional study 1564 individuals completed a standardised questionnaire.

Up to 55% evaluated the occupational physician positively, 8% negatively and 37% did not know the physician. Part-time workers evaluated the occupational physician more frequently positively than full-time workers. As experience and age increased, fewer workers did not know the physician or made a negative assessment.

The satisfaction level is consistent with the literature. The fact that employees cannot choose the occupational physician and indistinctness about the physicians' position within the company may explain dissatisfaction. The Belgian legal framework of occupational health is a cause for not knowing the occupational physician: the physician only invites employees legally subjected to occupational health care. The relation with the employees' age and work experience is explained by the practical organisation of occupational health.

The satisfaction of employees on sick leave with the occupational physician is important Because it is logical that mainly satisfied employees will be inclined to consult the occupational physician. All employees can consult the occupational physician spontaneously, even during sickness absence. Using 'the spontaneous consultation', employees on sick leave can involve the occupational physician timely for problems concerning work resumption. The occupational physician can resolve work-related causes of sick leave and make concrete work adjustments.