Development and validation of a prediction model for long-term sickness absence based on occupational health survey variables

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Corné Roelen
  • Sannie Thorsen
  • Martijn Heymans
  • Jos Twisk
  • Ute Bültmann
  • Bjørner, Jakob
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to develop and validate a prediction model for identifying employees at increased risk of long-term sickness absence (LTSA), by using variables commonly measured in occupational health surveys.

Materials and methods: Based on the literature, 15 predictor variables were retrieved from the DAnish National working Environment Survey (DANES) and included in a model predicting incident LTSA (≥4 consecutive weeks) during 1-year follow-up in a sample of 4000 DANES participants. The 15-predictor model was reduced by backward stepwise statistical techniques and then validated in a sample of 2524 DANES participants, not included in the development sample. Identification of employees at increased LTSA risk was investigated by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis; the area-under-the-ROC-curve (AUC) reflected discrimination between employees with and without LTSA during follow-up.

Results: The 15-predictor model was reduced to a 9-predictor model including age, gender, education, self-rated health, mental health, prior LTSA, work ability, emotional job demands, and recognition by the management. Discrimination by the 9-predictor model was significant (AUC = 0.68; 95% CI 0.61–0.76), but not practically useful.

Conclusions: A prediction model based on occupational health survey variables identified employees with an increased LTSA risk, but should be further developed into a practically useful tool to predict the risk of LTSA in the general working population.

Implications for rehabilitation
Long-term sickness absence risk predictions would enable healthcare providers to refer high-risk employees to rehabilitation programs aimed at preventing or reducing work disability.

A prediction model based on health survey variables discriminates between employees at high and low risk of long-term sickness absence, but discrimination was not practically useful.

Health survey variables provide insufficient information to determine long-term sickness absence risk profiles.

There is a need for new variables, based on the knowledge and experience of rehabilitation professionals, to improve long-term sickness absence risk profiles.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)168-175
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2018

ID: 169282159