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Encouraging encounters: sick-listed persons’ experiences of interactions with rehabilitation professionals
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Social Medicine and Public Health Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5173-5419
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Social Medicine and Public Health Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Sociology. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Personal Injury Prevention, Stockholm, Sweden.
2007 (English)In: Social work in health care, ISSN 0098-1389, Vol. 46, no 2, 71-87 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Long-term sickness-absence has increased in many countries and more knowledge is warranted on factors that can promote return-to-work (RTW). Interactions with professionals might be one such factor and especially experiences of positive encounters. The purpose of the study was to identify and analyze sick-listed persons' experiences of positive encounters with professionals within social insurance and healthcare. An inductive and descriptive qualitative approach was used to analyze ttanscripts from 11 semi-structured interviews with persons with experience of long-term sickness absence.

The following five categories of qualities of encounters were found to be of importance: being treated with respect, feeling supported, establishing a personal relationship, perceiving demands as well-balanced, and participating in decisions regarding rehabilitation measures. Several interviewees expressed the opinion that positive encounters with professionals can promote RTW.

Further research is needed to elucidate the aspects of interactions that enhance empowerment and self-confidence in persons on sick leave, in order to develop professional treatment strategies that facilitate RTW.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 46, no 2, 71-87 p.
Keyword [en]
Sickness-absence, sick leave, encounter, return-to-work, professionals
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-14287DOI: 10.1300/J010v46n02_05OAI: diva2:23107
Available from: 2007-02-13 Created: 2007-02-13 Last updated: 2015-06-02
In thesis
1. Encouraging Encounters: Experiences of People on Sick Leave in Their Meetings with Professionals
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Encouraging Encounters: Experiences of People on Sick Leave in Their Meetings with Professionals
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background: The recent increase in long-term sickness absence both in Sweden and many other countries has been met with various attempts to intensify the use of rehabilitation measures in order to prevent people from remaining long-term sickness absent. Several actors, among them professionals in healthcare, occupational health services, and social insurance are involved in handling issues related to the sick leave of an individual, and in providing measures to promote return to work (RTW). Identification of the factors that are related to RTW of the individual is a multifaceted task; therefore to meet the individual in this process is an essential challenge for many actors involved. Knowledge is needed about factors that might promote RTW in order to facilitate future research aimed at designing effective rehabilitation programs. Such information is of great importance to improve the work situations of the professionals, to decrease the cost for society, and to improve the situations for people on sick leave by facilitating RTW.

Objectives: The overall aim of the work underlying this thesis was to ascertain whether contacts between professionals and sickness absentees might a factor that can promote RTW, and also to identify different aspects of how such positive encounters are experienced by those who are sick listed.

Material and methods: Five investigations were conducted using different study designs, data, and methods of data analyses. The first two (papers I and II) concerned interviews with people on sick leave about positive experiences of their encounters with professionals. The third study (paper III) was based on four questions about encounters, which were included in a questionnaire that was administrated to people who were on sick leave. The fourth study (paper IV) used a broad questionnaire to examine experiences of positive encounters, and the final study (paper V) proposed a model of possible effects of the encounters on RTW.

Results: In paper I and II different aspects of sick-listed person’s experiences of positive encounters were identified. For example, it seemed that important qualities included being treated with respect, feeling supported, establishing a personal relationship, and participating in decisions regarding RTW measures. Several of the interviewees stated that RTW might be promoted by positive encounters. Paper III showed that perceptions of interactions varied with the type of professionals, as well as with demographics. The respondents perceived their encounters with professionals within healthcare as most positive, followed by social insurance, and lastly occupational health services. In general, females, people born in Sweden, and those who were older, or had a higher education rated their encounters with professionals as more positive. The main finding reported in paper IV was that the majority of the participants had experienced being positive encountered by professionals. Three aspects of such encounters were stressed, namely being treated with ”competence”, ”personal attention”, and ”competence and trust”. The results related in paper V indicated that theories about empowerment and on social emotions could be successfully applied in this area, after they were specifically adapted to some unique features of the contacts between sickness absentees and rehabilitation professionals.

Conclusions: This thesis emphasizes that being positively encountered by professionals can have a beneficial impact on RTW after a period of sickness absence. More research is required to elucidate the interaction between sick-listed persons and professionals who are involved in their cases. Further studies should focus on how methods for professionals can be provided to increase sick-listed persons’ own ability to mobilize and develop their resources. Moreover, additional knowledge is needed to extend professional treatment strategies that enhance self-confidence and empowerment of individuals during sickness absence.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Institutionen för hälsa och samhälle, 2007. 61 p.
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 981
Encounters, Sickness absence, Sick leave, Return to work, Client perspective, Health promotion, Work, Sjukfrånvaro, Bemötande, Sociala emotioner, Återgång till arbete, Empowerment
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-8262 (URN)978-91-85715-94-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-03-02, Aulan, Hälsans hus, Campus US, Linköpings Universitet, Linköping, 09:00 (English)
Available from: 2007-02-13 Created: 2007-02-13 Last updated: 2015-06-02

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