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Work. 2011;39(3):233-42. doi: 10.3233/WOR-2011-1171.

On long term sick leave due to musculoskeletal diseases and disorders. Experiences of work demands.

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  • 1International Research Institute of Stavanger (IRIS), Norway Division of Insurance Medicine, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. randi.aas@iris.no



The rate of sick leave is higher in the public sector than in the private sector in several countries, making it essential to thoroughly investigate employees in the public sector. The following research question was investigated: How do employees on long-term sick leave (> 8 weeks) due to musculoskeletal disorders or diseases describe their work demands?


This paper is from the larger Rogaland RTW case study. The informants were female employees (n=8) in the first-line public sector with different types of musculoskeletal diseases or disorders. Qualitative interviews were conducted using a semi-structured interview guide based on two measures: Worker Role Interview and Work Environmental Impact Scale. Data was analysed by condensing and categorizing meaning.


Fifty-one work demands were described, only five of which were physical demands. Demands were sometimes described as merely negative or positive for the work performance, but also as both. Most of the negative demands were emotional and cognitive challenges in mastering the work tasks. Most of the demands (n= 36) were experienced to be claimed by the employee herself, with only a few being claimed by the employer or environment (n=7) or by both (n=8).


Eight employees in the public sector on long-term sick leave due to musculoskeletal problems experienced mostly cognitive and emotional demands, and defined themselves as the work-demand claimer. The results of this study point to the importance of broadening the perspective in work rehabilitation for workers absent due to diagnosis of the musculoskeletal system.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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