Only few studies of the long-term occupational situation of clients after stay in a vocational rehabilitation clinic have been published. The aim of this study was to describe the clients in a specific vocational rehabilitation clinic, to investigate the employment situation 6-10 months after their stay, and to find out whether a doctor's estimate can point out the clients who are able to return to employment, and who are not.
All 254 clients that commenced a stay in the rehabilitation clinic from May 1996 to April 1998 were included. A doctor estimated whether he thought the client could return to employment or not. After 6-10 months the clients received a mailed questionnaire. A total of 210 persons (82.7%) answered the questionnaire.
Eighty per cent of the clients were women. About two thirds of the clients were unskilled. Musculoskeletal disease was the reason of vocational disability in 63% of the clients. At the follow-up 50% were awarded disability pension, 20% were either employed or still in a rehabilitation process, whereas 30% still did receive passive support. If the doctor estimated that the person could not return to employment, the positive predictive value was 94.1-98-8%. If the doctor estimated that the person could return to employment the positive predictive value was 36.1-63.9%.
Many of the clients that were later awarded disability pension could at an early time be pointed out by a doctor. These clients might not need to go through a stay in a vocational rehabilitation clinic. The methods used in vocational rehabilitation clinics should be evaluated and developed in order to make more clients return to employment.