Objective: To develop and validate a screening instrument to identify employees at high risk for future long-term sickness absence.
Study design and setting: The instrument was developed (n=5,601) and internally validated (n=3,383) through data analyses of the Maastricht Cohort Study, among a group of office workers not absent from work. External validation was performed in a cohort of 3,895 bank employees.
Results: The screening instrument, Balansmeter, captures 34 questions on demographics, work environment, private situation, (mental) health, and sickness absence history. The Balansmeter showed good predictive values for future sickness absence (>28 days) in men (internal validation relative risk [RR] 4.69 [95% confidence interval (CI): 2.74, 8.02]; external validation RR 3.90 [95% CI: 2.35, 6.45]) and women (internal validation RR 4.16 [95% CI: 2.05, 8.43]; external validation RR 2.62 [95% CI: 1.44, 4.77]).
Conclusion: It is possible to predict future sickness absence. The Balansmeter can be considered a valuable screening instrument.