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Utbrändhet som arbetsskada: Försäkringspraktik och arbetsskadeidentitet
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Social Work. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2015 (Swedish)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In the late 1990s, burnout became a common diagnosis for stress relatedillnesses in Sweden. With the introduction of the burnout diagnosis, the claims for compensation from the occupational insurance system, Arbetsskadeförsäkringen, for mental injuries (where burnout is included) increased dramatically. The new diagnosis led to not only a new type of occupational injury but also a new type of insurance claimants, women in white-collar positions.

This study is based on analysis of the documents pertaining to 48 cases of occupational injury claims. These documents cover the all stages fromapplication to decision, and in some cases appeals to higher authorities. First, the assessment process in the Social insurance Agency is studied; of special interest are the medical examination and the power of the medical profession in the insurance practice. In the next step, the claims stories of individual applicants are analyzed according to the different stages in the assessment process.

The results indicate that cases of burnout have a higher rejection rate from the insurance than cases of other mental illnesses; only 12 % of the claims are granted. Women’s claims as well as white-collar workers’ claims are granted more often than those of men and blue-collar workers.

When forming its decision the agency accord special weight to the assessment provided by the medical expert associated with the Social Insurance Agency (försäkringsläkaren). In every case the decision by the agency follows the expert’s advice. In many cases the medical expert makes use of a kind of masternarrative to assess the injury as burnout. According to this master-narrative, burnout is caused by demands of emotional engagement in certain helping professions.

In the documents, individual claimants describe their illness and how they became ill in a narrative format. They often attribute their illness to the stress caused by changes or disruptions in the workplace. In cases where the claim is rejected, half of the claimants communicate further with the agency. These claimants often express feelings of disappointment. When their illness is not seen as an occupational injury, claimants feel rejected also morally. Burnout as an occupational injury becomes a sought-after moral distinction, a mark for those who suffer without blame.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2015. , 138 p.
Linköping Studies in Social Work and Welfare, 2015:1
Keyword [en]
Occupational Injuries, Insurance, Discourse, Narrative, Burnout
National Category
Work Sciences Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Social Work
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-121598OAI: diva2:857152
Arbetsskadeförsäkringen i det postindustriella arbetslivet
Available from: 2015-09-28 Created: 2015-09-28 Last updated: 2015-12-04Bibliographically approved

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