"That's probably how you would want care to be" - experiences of sick leave teams at a health center, a mixed method study

BMC Prim Care. 2023 Nov 17;24(1):243. doi: 10.1186/s12875-023-02192-5.


Background: The health center where this study was performed the management wanted to test whether a sick leave team provided the physicians with better conditions for the task of assessing sick leave. The goals were to ensure the quality of the assessment of patients with sick leave needs and to improve the work environment. The aim of this study was to take part in the staff's experiences of having access to and working in sick leave teams and how the working method affected the number of sick leave patients and sick leave pattern.

Methods: A mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods. Two focus groups were conducted with a total of 11 participants. The head of the health center formed the focus groups, which consisted of 6 doctors, 3 district nurses, 1 rehab coordinator and 1 psychologist. Aggregated sick leave data for full-time and part-time sick leave of more than 90, 180 and 360 days, respectively, were obtained and compiled at project start and end, and from the corresponding period 18 months before project start.

Results: The introduction of sick leave teams with physicians and rehabilitation coordinator for patients who turn to the health center for mental illness and / or musculoskeletal problems emerged three main categories from the analysis of the focus group discussions: working environment, clear roles and in-depth competence. The total number of people who were on sick leave more than 365 days decreased by 27% between start and the end of the project, and the proportion of women increased by 11%.

Conclusions: The study shows that the complex task of sick leave can be perceived as positive by physicians with the support of teamwork. The working method is similar to that applied in occupational health care, where the physician is not alone with this task. This can also be a way to make primary care a more attractive workplace.

Keywords: Primary care; Rehabilitation coordinator; Sick leave; Sick leave physicians; Teamwork.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Employment
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders*
  • Occupational Health Services* / methods
  • Sick Leave