To be or not to be Sick Certified with Special Reference to Physician and Patient Related Factors

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Objectives The aim of this thesis was to assess the importance of general practitioners (GP) and patient related factors for the GPs’ decision to sick certify or not to sick certify the patients.Study population and methods The data were obtained from a cross-sectional questionnaire study of GP-patient consultations. 65 GPs responded to one questionnaire about themselves and one questionnaire about each of the altogether 642 consultations. The patients responded to a questionnaire about themselves and the consultation, altogether 521 consultations. Various combinations of the three questionnaires were used in the four papers on which this thesis is based.Results Among GPs, long experience of family medicine and working part-time were significant determinants for issuing more sick leave certificates. Complaints perceived as clearly somatic by the physician decreased the chance of sick certifications, and complaints resulting in severe limitation of occupational work capacity, as assessed by the patient as well as the physician, increased the chance of sick certification, as did appointments for loco-motor complaints. Among work related factors, high ‘authority over decisions’ and high ‘social support’ were associated with reduced sickness certification probability. Worrying about illness or injury risks from work increased sickness certification. GPs and their patients took a fairly similar view to statements on health related and insurance system related matters. GPs’ opinions seem to have a greater impact than patients’ on the GPs’ decision to sickness certify a patient or not.Conclusions A number of patient and GP related factors were associated with the probability of getting sick certified. The patient’s own judgement of impaired work ability was important for sickness certification, but a shared judgement and decision between the GP and the patient appears probable in most cases.