APH 2005, 63, 293-312:

On regional differences in duration of sick leave: the role of work, personal and health characteristics.

W.G.M. Beemsterboer, R.E. Stewart, J.W. Groothoff, F.J.N. Nijhuis

Keywords: regions, homogeneous groups, duration of sick leave, determinants, the Netherlands

Objectives: The aim of this study is to explore the influence of determinants of duration of sick leave on in age and profession homogeneous groups in two different regions in the Netherlands. Apart from a statistical comparison of duration of sick leave in these regions, a literature search on determinants of duration of sick leave, spread over the last decades, was performed to get an impression of the topicality of the study.

Methods: 184 participants in the regions Utrecht and South-Limburg were interviewed about work, personal and health characteristics. Data of duration of sick leave were obtained from a Dutch social fund. Later, a literature search on determinants of duration of sick leave was performed.

Results: The statistical comparison of duration of sick leave in the two different regions showed that in South-Limburg determinants of ‘state of health’, ‘motivation’, ‘work conditions’ and ‘work relations’ were associated with duration of sick leave, whereas in Utrecht less predicting determinants were found, namely for ‘work contents’. The literature search gives a quite consistent picture of determinants of duration of sick leave over the last decades.

Conclusions: In either of the investigated regions different determinants were associated with duration of sick leave. Thus, nationwide interventions to reduce duration of sick leave are useless without taking into
account the existence of regional differences in determinants that predict duration of sick leave. Determinants of duration of sick leave did not change in the last decades, therefore the results of the study are, although performed in the nineties, still relevant.