Why are so many people in Sweden on sick leave nowadays? What risk factors are there, and how can we achieve prevention? More information about the Institute of Medicine’s research in insurance medicine may be found here.
Mental health problems have become ever more common in the working-age population. The prevalence of problems with pain in the neck and shoulders, for instance, has also risen. Efforts to avert instances of sick leave, and provide support that makes it easier for people who have been on leave to go back to work, require knowledge and expertise concerning the labour market. The research area of insurance medicine is relatively unexplored, despite the high risk of harmful repercussions on the individuals, workplaces and communities affected.
Our research on insurance medicine is conducted through both clinical and population studies. The researchers seek to understand what causes sick leave, to identify risk factors and to find out how the work environment, health and sickness absence are connected. The aim is to develop knowledge that can serve to prevent sick leave and strengthen capacity in the employment sector and primary care. This will facilitate more effective identification of, and support for, the individuals concerned, to avert long-term ill health and sick leave.
- Identifying risk factors for sick leave
- Preventing sickness absence
- Identifying risk and protective factors for return to work
- Studying work procedures in primary care relating to sick leave
- Enhancing managers’ knowledge of mental ill health
- Facilitating communication between patient, doctor and employer
Our researchers are currently studying depression and anxiety disorders, stress, pain and other conditions among economically active people. One research programme, New Ways, focuses on boosting knowledge of how to identify, treat and support people so that they can maintain their work capacity and reduce their need for sick leave. In primary care, studies are under way to test new work procedures to improve the response to people with mental ill health. Researchers at the department are also working to find methods of preventing neck and shoulder pain.
- New Ways
- Co-Work-Care Manager (in Swedish)
- Compared with male managers, a higher proportion of female managers in both the private and the public sector take initiatives to prevent mental ill health at the workplace
- Appointing care coordinators for patients treated for mental health problems in primary care shortens their sickness absence
Close connection between research and education
There is close cooperation between the Institute’s research and our education and training, in which many of our researchers too are involved. They supervise doctoral students and teach on our regular programmes, freestanding courses and vocational care programmes within Sahlgrenska Academy.