APH 2008, 66, 196-212:

The role of the curative physician in disability management. A literature review

Mortelmans AK, Donceel P, Lahaye D, Bulterys S.

Keywords: disability evaluation, disability insurance, employment, family physicians, occupational medicine, physician’s role, rehabilitation, sick leave

The aim of this article is to present a literature review of the role of curative physicians in the disability management of sick-listed patients.

We performed a review of pertinent literature published in English between 1994 and mid-2005. We searched MEDLINE using the MeSH terms curative physician, physician’s role, and disability management. Additionally, relevant MEDLINE links, bibliographic and personal literature lists, symposia, and bibliographies of selected papers were searched. Papers were selected for further review based on their content.

Main findings
We retrieved nearly 600 references; 52 were relevant to our subject of interest and were included in the review. Several authors emphasised the important role of the curative physician in disability management. The studies also emphasised that curative physicians can influence patients’ sick leave and disability outcomes without jeopardising the physician-patient relationship. Taking an active role in disability management, however, is difficult for the curative physician, because sickness absence and work resumption are influenced by multiple factors. Therefore, cooperation between curative physicians and insurance and workplace actors is necessary and should be improved.

Principal conclusions
Curative physicians have an important role in disability management and should be encouraged to participate more actively in disability management.