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Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2016 May;89(4):609-19. doi: 10.1007/s00420-015-1099-x. Epub 2015 Oct 29.

Different work capacity impairments in patients with different work-anxieties.

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Work and Organizational Psychology, University of Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 24-25, 14476, Potsdam, Germany.



Persons with work-anxieties are especially endangered for work capacity impairment and sick leave. Work capacity impairment is not directly due to symptoms but due to illness-related capacity disorders. Work capacity impairments can be described on different dimensions (e.g., social interaction, decision making and judgment, endurance, mobility). Understanding the type of work capacity impairment is important for reintegration interventions. This is the first study to investigate work capacity impairment in risk patients with different work-anxieties.


Two hundred and forty-four patients in inpatient rehabilitation suffering from work-anxieties were investigated concerning degree of work capacity impairment. Capacity impairment was described on 13 capacity dimensions according to the internationally evaluated observer-rating Mini-ICF-APP (impairment grades 0-4, grade 2 and higher indicating clinically relevant observable impairment). A physician's rating on global work ability prognosis was obtained along with sick leave duration during 6 months after assessment. Patients with different work-anxieties were compared concerning capacity impairments.


Patients with different work-anxieties were impaired in different capacity dimensions: Work-related social anxiety went along with clinically relevant impairment in capacity of assertiveness (M = 2.40), anxiety of insufficiency went along with impaired capacity of endurance (M = 2.20), and work-related generalized worrying was accompanied by impairment in the capacity for decision making (M = 1.82). Specific capacity impairment dimensions were related to sick leave duration, while a global work ability prognosis was not.


The capacity approach is useful to describe work impairment more precisely and beyond symptoms. On this basis, reintegration-focusing interventions such as capacity training (e.g., social interaction training) or work adjustment (e.g., reducing exposure with interactional work tasks) can be initiated.


ICF; Impairment; Mental disorders; Sick leave; Work ability; Work-anxiety

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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