The Role and Influence of Care Providers on Work Disability



Although health care providers often have a central role in the prevention and treatment of work disability, their contribution has not been consistently positive. This is unfortunate, as the consequences of unnecessary work disability include ill health and economic deprivation. Often, patients report that health care providers pay little attention to the work-related consequences of their illness, except when required by law to issue sickness certificates. Common problems include failure to recognize work disability as an important consideration, over-focus on biomedical issues and symptoms rather than on function, irrational cognitions about work and health, employing ineffective treatments, and inability to deal with workplace and social issues. Provider education, economic incentives, peer leadership, and support to address work disability issues can make a difference in provider influences on work outcomes. A change in paradigm is suggested, based in large part on improved communication among workers, employers, and health care providers. The evidence base for a positive health care providers’ influence is growing and in several countries evidence-based practice guidelines are available that directly address work disability issues. Practical research on how to achieve meaningful change in health care provider attitudes and practices in relation to work disability is still needed. Work disability prevention should be a goal for all health care providers.


Sickness Absence Work Disability Sickness Certification Work Disability Prevention Occupational Health Professional 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department: Coronel Institute of Occupational, Health Academic Medical CenterUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department: Centre of ExcellenceNetherlands Society of Occupational Medicine (NVAB)UtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Center for Disability Research, Liberty Mutual Research Institute for SafetyHopkintonUSA

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