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Organizational Return to Work Support and Sick Leave Duration: A Cohort of Spanish Workers With a Long-Term Non–Work-Related Sick Leave Episode

Sampere, Maite MD, MSc; Gimeno, David PhD; Serra, Consol MD, PhD; Plana, Manel MD; Martínez, José Miguel PhD; Delclos, George L. MD, PhD; Benavides, Fernando G. MD, PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: June 2011 - Volume 53 - Issue 6 - p 674–679
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31821f2ad4

Objective: To analyze the association between organizational support and time to return to work (RTW) in workers with long-term non–work-related sick leave.

Methods: Cohort participants were 571 workers, with a non–work-related sick leave episode of more than 15 days, recruited during the first visit in a health insurance company (mutua). Workers completed a baseline questionnaire regarding organizational RTW support measures and were followed until the end of the episodes. Return to work and time to RTW were established on the basis of the mutua's register. Multivariate Cox regression models were used.

Results: Workers in companies with an overall high organizational RTW support returned to work earlier. This effect was mainly due to workers in companies that provided specific RTW programs.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that companies play an important role in facilitating RTW for workers with long-term non–work-related sick leave episodes.

From the Mutual Midat Cyclops (MC MUTUAL), Medical and Health Care Services Division (Dr Sampere, Dr Plana); Center for Research in Occupational Health (CISAL), Department of Experimental and Health Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Dr Sampere, Dr Gimeno, Dr Serra, Dr Martínez, Dr Delclos, Dr Benavides); CIBER de Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP) (Dr Gimeno, Dr Serra, Dr Martínez, Dr Delclos, Dr Benavides); and Occupational Health Service, Parc de Salut Mar (Dr Serra), Barcelona, Spain; and Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, Division of Epidemiology, Human Genetics, and Environmental Sciences, The University of Texas School of Public Health, San Antonio (Dr Gimeno) and Houston (Dr Delclos), Tex.

Address correspondence to: Maite Sampere Valero, MD, MSc, Medical and Health Care Services Division—MC MUTUAL, C/Provença 321, 08037, Barcelona, Spain (

This study is part of a larger project called RAT-IT “Return to work after a temporary sick leave absence,” funded by a grant from the Health Research Fund (FIS 04/1062) and Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in Spain (FIPROS/2006/78) and discretionary funds from the University of Texas School of Public Health.

©2011The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine