Early identification of persons at risk of sickness absence due to work-related stress is a crucial problem for society in general, and primary health care in particular. Tho date, no established method to do this exists. This project's aim is to evaluate whether systematic early identification of work-related stress can prevent sickness absence. This paper presents the study design, procedure and outcome measurements, as well as allocation and baseline characteristics of the study population.
The study is a two-armed randomized controlled trial with follow-up at 3, 6 and 12 months. Non-sick-listed employed women and men, aged 18 to 64 years, who had mental and physical health complaints and sought care at primary health care centers (PHCC) were eligible to participate. At baseline work-related stress was measured by the Work Stress Questionnaire (WSQ), combined with feedback at consultation, at PHCC. The preventive intervention included early identification of work-related stress by the WSQ, GP training in the use of WSQ, GP feedback at consultation and finding suitable preventive measures. A process evaluation was used to explore how to facilitate future implementation and structural use of the WSQ at the PHCC. The primary outcome to compare the preventive sick leave intervention by the general practitioner (GP) versus treatment as usual is sick leave data obtained from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency register.
Early screening for sick leave due to work-related stress makes it possible not only to identify those at risk for sick leave, but also to put focus on the patient's specific work-related stress problems, which can be helpful in finding suitable preventive measures. This study investigates if use of the WSQ by GPs at PHCCs, combined with feedback at consultation, prevents future sickness absence.
ClinicalTrials.gov. Identifier: NCT02480855 . Registered 20 May 2015.
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