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Occup Med (Lond). 2010 Mar;60(2):152-5. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqp182. Epub 2009 Dec 31.

Junior doctors need training in sickness certification.

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Department of Respiratory Medicine, George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, Nuneaton, Warwickshire, CV10 7DJ, UK.



A recent report highlights the need for clear standards of practice regarding working-age health. Despite this, little is known about training or performance of sickness certification by junior doctors in secondary care.


To see what sickness certification training had been received by practising hospital postgraduate trainees and establish how confident and knowledgeable they were in this area. We also evaluated the feasibility and face validity of a paper-based educational module.


We surveyed 51 junior doctors in a variety of specialties, at all grades. Questions concerned training and practice of sickness certification and assessing capacity for work. A knowledge test regarding formal guidelines, use of forms and self-certification was undertaken, before participants evaluated a 10 min training module.


Seventy-nine per cent of participants lacked knowledge in sickness certification, and 55% were not confident to assess capacity for work; 66% had received no training at all and 71% participants followed no guideline. Many could not identify or explain the use of certificates: MED-3 (50 or 71%, respectively), MED-5 (42 or 38%, respectively), MED-10 (0 or 17%, respectively), RM-7 (2 or 6%, respectively) and DS-1500 (6 or 8%, respectively). Majority of participants thought that an educational module could increase knowledge and skill in sickness certification (96%) and in assessing work capacity (74%).


Junior doctors are involved in sickness certification, but there is a lack of training at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and many are unaware of formal guidance. The majority of junior doctors are concerned about lack of knowledge in this area and to a lesser extent in assessing patients' capacity to work. A simple educational module could improve confidence, knowledge and skills in sickness certification.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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