Incidence of ill-health related job loss and related social and occupational factors. The "unfit for the job" study: a one-year follow-up study of 51,132 workers


Abstract

Objective: The analysis of ill-health related job loss may be a relevant indicator for the prioritization of actions in the workplaces or in the field of public health, and a target for health promotion. The aim of this study was to analyse the medical causes, the incidence, and the characteristics of employees medically unfit to their job.

Methods: This one-year prospective study included all workers followed by occupational physicians in an occupational health service in the South of the France. Our study design allowed two data frames to be merged (followed up workers and “unfit” patients who lost their jobs due to ill-health). We performed a multivariate analysis in order to adjust the Odds ratio for the age groups, sex, occupation and the activity sectors which are strongly associated with job loss.

Results: Seventeen occupational physicians followed 51,132 workers. The all-cause incidence of being unfit to return to one’s job was 0.778%. The two main causes of being unfit for one’s job were musculoskeletal disorders (47.2%) and psychopathology (38.4%). Being over 50 years old [Odds ratio (OR) 2.63, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) [2.13-3.25] and being a woman [OR 1.52, 95% CI 1.21-1.91] were associated with the all-cause unfitness, independent of occupations and activity sectors.

Conclusions: Identification of occupational and demographic determinants independently associated with ill-health related job loss may provide significant and cost-effective arguments for health promotion and job loss prevention.
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