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The Experience of Returning to Work
Jönköping University, School of Health Science, HHJ. ADULT. Regional Social Insurance office in Kalmar.ORCID iD: 0002-3309-2816
Jönköping University, School of Health Science, HHJ, Dep. of Rehabilitation.
2007 (English)In: Work: A journal of Prevention, Assesment and rehabilitation, ISSN 1051-9815, E-ISSN 1875-9270, Vol. 28, no 2, p. 121-134Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore from an environmental perspective the experiences of returning to work of former unemployed sickness absentees. Five separate focus-group interviews were carried out with themes concerning different environmental areas. The findings showed that the participants in their process of being off work and then attempting returning to work experienced a personal transition manifesting itself as a negative self-image, change of life-rhythm and restrictions in their roles and activities. In their progression, the participants experienced a need for reorientation and expressed feelings of alienation, and for that reason felt need of support from a network, especially a professional one. Regarding attitudes in society, the participants reported experiences of social stigmatization, both in mass media and in their immediate social environment, and an increasing egocentricity among their fellow-workers. They perceived their progression back to work as a ‘time quarantine’ and as a long and destructive wait for support. The findings indicate that the phenomenon of ‘returning to work’ after unemployment and sick leave could not be reduced to a single issue. It should rather be seen as a dynamic problem with individual and structural, environmental aspects.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 28, no 2, p. 121-134
Keyword [en]
Attitudes, coherence, focus group, former unemployed, vocational rehabilitation, personal transition, reorientation, sick-listed absentees, time
National Category
Occupational Therapy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-6207PubMedID: 17312344OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-6207DiVA, id: diva2:37027
Available from: 2007-11-08 Created: 2007-11-08 Last updated: 2018-02-28Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. On the nature of work ability
Open this publication in new window or tab >>On the nature of work ability
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

‘Work ability’ is a multidimensional concept with importance for both society and the individual. The overall aim of this thesis was to illuminate work ability from the perspective of individuals (Studies I, III), rehabilitation (Study II) and employers (Study IV). In Study I five focus-group interviews were conducted with a total of 16 former unemployed sickness absentee participants. The interviews focused on their experiences of the environmental impact on return to work. The participants expressed a changed self-image and life rhythm. A need for reorientation and support from professionals was stressed. Experiences of being stuck in a ‘time quarantine’, i.e. a long and destructive wait for support, were also revealed. Study II was a randomised controlled study evaluating the interventional capacity of problem-based method (PBM) groups regarding anxiety, depression and stress and work ability compared to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as a method within the Rehabilitation Guarantee. Effects were measured with psychometric instruments. The participants, 22 in the PBM group and 28 in the CBT group, were persons on sick leave because of common mental disorders. Within-group analysis showed significant lower degree of symptoms regarding anxiety and depression for both interventions. Between-group analysis showed significant lower degree of symptoms for CBT regarding anxiety, depression and stress. Within-group analysis of work ability showed significant improvement in one (out of five) subscales for the PBM group and in four for the CBT group. No significant between-group differences were found regarding work ability. In Study III, 16 participants were interviewed after completed interventions in Study II, eight from each intervention group. The interviews focused on their experiences from the interventions and the impact on their ability to work and perform other everyday activities. The interventions were experienced as having a positive impact on their ability to work and perform other everyday activities in a more sustainable way. Reflecting on behaviour and achieving limiting strategies were perceived as helpful in both interventions, although varying abilities to incorporate strategies were described. The findings support the use of active coping-developing interventions rather than passive treatments. Study IV included interviews with 12 employers and investigated their conceptions of ‘work ability’. In the results three domains were identified: ‘employees’ contributions to work ability’, ‘employers’ contributions to work ability’ and ‘circumstances with limited work ability’. Work ability was regarded as a tool in production and its output, production, was the main issue. The employees’ commitment could bridge other shortcomings. In summary, in the work rehabilitation process, different perspectives on work ability need to be considered in order to improve not only individual performance but also rehabilitation interventions, work-places and everyday circumstances. Clearly pronounced perspectives can contribute to better illustrating the dynamic within the relational and multifaceted concept of ‘work ability’. The ability to work can thus be enhanced through improving individual abilities, discovered through reorientation and created through support and adaptation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Jönköping: School of Health Sciences, 2014. p. 120
Series
Hälsohögskolans avhandlingsserie, ISSN 1654-3602 ; 48
Keyword
context, disability, occupational therapy, participation, work demand
National Category
Occupational Therapy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-23610 (URN)978-91-85835-47-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-04-11, Forum Humanum, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-03-14 Created: 2014-03-14 Last updated: 2018-02-28Bibliographically approved

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