Reduction of sickness absence by an occupational health care management program focusing on self-efficacy and self-management

Background: The aim of occupational health care management programs (OHMP) is to improve the health status of employees, increase work ability and reduce absence time. As better health is associated with better coping abilities, work-related self-efficacy and self-management are important abilities that should be trained within OHMPs. Objectives: To study the effectiveness of an OHMP including special interventions to enhance self-efficacy and self-management. Methods: Effects of an OHMP on sickness absence was studied by comparing an intervention group of 159 employees and two control groups with 250 employees from the German Federal Pension Agency. A core feature of the OHMP were group sessions with all members of working teams, focussing on self-efficacy and self management of the individual participant as well as the team as a group (focus groups). Participants in the OHMP were asked for their subjective evaluation of the focus groups. Rates of sickness absence were taken from the routine data of the employer. Results: Participants of the OHMP indicated that they had learned better ways of coping and communication and that they had generated specific intentions to make changes in their working situation. The rate of sickness absence in the intervention group decreased from 9.26% in the year before the OHMP to 7.93% in the year after the program, i.e. by 14.4%, while there was an increase of 7.9% and 10.7% in the two control groups. Conclusions: The data suggest that OHMP with focus on self-efficacy and self management of individuals and teams are helpful in reducing work absenteeism.


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