Objective: To describe sickness absence in patients with arm, neck and/or shoulder complaints and to evaluate determinants of sickness absence during 6 months follow-up.
Methods: A prospective cohort study in physical therapy practice with follow-up measurements at 3 and 6 months. The main outcome measure was the occurrence of sickness absence due to arm, neck and shoulder complaints during 6 months follow-up. Determinants were tested in univariate and multivariate GEE (Generalized Estimating Equations) analysis.
Results: At baseline 161 patients (33%) reported absence from work. The multivariate analysis showed that self-reported work-relatedness of complaints, previous musculoskeletal trauma, higher severity of complaints at baseline, more somatization and low decision authority at work were associated with sickness absence during the follow-up period.
Conclusion: In physical therapy practice, social and psychological factors (at work) influence the occurrence of sickness absence in patients with arm, neck and/or shoulder complaints. These factors can be taken into account when developing and evaluating interventions to reduce sickness absence among these patients.
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