Return to work self efficacy and actual return to work among long-term sick-listed employees

D. Volker, M.C. Zijlstra-Vlasveld, E.P.M. Brouwers, A.G.C. van Lomwel, C.M. van der Feltz-Cornelis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


Considering the costs incurred by sickness absence and the implications for the workers’ quality of life, a fast return to work (RTW) is important. Self-efficacy (SE) seems to be an important predictor of RTW for employees with mental health problems. The predictive value of return-to-work self-efficacy (RTW-SE) has not been examined in employees on long-term sickness absence due to any cause. The aim of this study is to investigate whether RTW-SE is a predictor of time to RTW in long-term sick-listed employees with all-cause sickness absence. Furthermore, the relative contribution of RTW-SE in predicting RTW will be examined compared to health-related, job-related and personal factors. Methods
In a longitudinal study, sick-listed employees who were currently on sick leave for more than 4 weeks filled out a self-report questionnaire. Demographics, health-related, personal, and job-related factors, and RTW-SE were measured. Employees were followed for 2 years to determine the duration until full RTW. Cox proportional hazards regression analyses were used to identify factors associated with time to RTW.
Data were collected from 493 sick-listed employees. RTW-SE was a significant predictor of RTW. In a multivariate model, low RTW-SE, the thought of not being able to work while having symptoms (illness behaviour) and having chronic medical conditions were predictors of a longer duration until RTW.
When guiding long-term sick-listed employees, it is important to focus on factors such as SE and illness behaviour, instead of just focusing on the symptoms of the sick-listed employee.
Keywords: Return-to-work, Self-efficacy, Sickness absence
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-431
JournalJournal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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