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

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.

Source: Roelen, C., Thorsen, S., Heymans, M., Twisk, J., Bültmann, U., & Bjørner, J. (2016). Disability and Rehabilitation, 1-8.

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