Background: In most European countries, spells of long-term absence contribute the largest number of days that are reimbursed as a result of sickness absence. This group is growing and it is constituted mainly of women.
Aim: The present study seeks further knowledge about what happens then and there, i.e. how women on long-term sickness absence handle and explain, for themselves and others, this interruption in their daily life.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews were performed with 82 middle-aged women with personal experience of long-term sickness absence.
Results: The women's accounts of sickness absence contained interpretations of what had happened to them, how things were at present, and what they thought the future would bring. Three different accounts could be distinguished: crisis, breakpoint, and migration. The perception of their own situation and especially what they thought about their future was associated with their feeling of power to take the initiative, and their well-being.
Conclusion: From this study the authors have found implications for central topics of importance: time elapse, sense of coherence, reorientation/adaptation, vital goals, and gender.
2003. Vol. 31, no 2, 143-148 p.