August/September 2016 (vol. 13/2)

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Research Plus

Very early interventions to reduce sick leave

There is insufficient current evidence to recommend very early workplace interventions – in the first two weeks of sickness absence – to improve return to work (RTW) rates or reduce absence duration, according to this systematic review. Just three studies met inclusion criteria. In two Dutch studies, OH physicians assessed physical and psychosocial factors arising from mental ill health and musculoskeletal pain, aiming to enhance the worker’s problem-solving capability and remove barriers to RTW. There were no significant differences in RTW times. A Finnish trial demonstrated faster RTW for individuals given ‘part-time sick leave’ (reduced daily working hours) compared with those on full sick leave (HR = 1.8; CI 1.2–2.8). A meta-analysis found no significant differences between the intervention and control groups.


  1. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health 2016; 42(4): 261–272. online first: doi: 10.5271/sjweh.3576.


Occupational Health at Work August/September 2016 (vol. 13/2) pp41