Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Prevention and sustainable employment
Wednesday, 05/Jun/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Thomas Lund
Session Chair: Alex Collie
Location: Room 97

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Job-rotation as a Tool to maintain Employability: The Interplay between Motivation, Qualification and Health

Susanne Bartel

Federal Association of Vocational Rehabilitation Centres, Germany

Facing the demographic changes in German society, innovative age and aging management concepts and prevention models are becoming increasingly important for employees, companies and the social security system. The decline in activity-related performance potentials, due to higher age, is often associated with health-stressing working conditions and the lack of opportunities to develop professionally and personally. Job-rotation between companies can counteract this process before health problems develop.

In the project “TerrA”, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (2016 to 2019), the possibilities and limitations of such a model is currently being tested in practice. Based on qualitative fieldwork (i.e. interviews with employees, participatory observation) and intense discussions with employers and stakeholders, specific consulting processes for employees and companies were developed and framework conditions described.

The results show that at the individual level, personal motivation, qualification and health play an essential role for such a preventive approach. At the same time, companies recognised the need for a long-term view of working-life biographies to prevent age-related mental and/or physical disabilities. Although the social insurance stakeholders have recognised the preventive potential of our model, they are currently unable to implement it, as legal frameworks only permit benefits if a health problem has already occurred.

Under what conditions can preventive job changes succeed? Where are the opportunities and limits of this preventive strategy in the context of securing employability? We draw the conclusion that for the implementation of preventive measures, a sensitisation for individual concepts of health and work is of great importance. At the same time, companies have a central responsibility to integrate anticipatory job analyses and qualification opportunities in human resources development concepts proactively. Finally, it became clear that financing possibilities for job qualification under a preventive perspective cannot be borne by the social security systems, yet.

Long-term Effects On Work Disability Of An Indicated Preventive Strategy Aimed At Preventing Future Long-term Sickness Absence

Sophie Heloïse Klasen, Ludovic G.P.M. van Amelsvoort, Nicole W.H. Jansen, IJmert Kant

Maastricht University, Netherlands, The

So far most general and selective preventive interventions have been proven rather ineffective in considerably reducing work disability risk. A preventive strategy, based on the principles of indicated prevention, that is, detecting high risk workers with a screening questionnaire and subsequent early intervention of these workers, was developed, aimed at preventing future long-term sickness absence. It is assumed that the reduction of long-term sickness also considerably reduces the work disability risk.

The aim of our study is to establish the efficacy of this preventive strategy on work disability risk and the long-term costs and effects. To assess the efficacy, data covering a prolonged follow up from two large Dutch RCTs on the effectiveness of the preventive strategy is collected. Trial I consisted of employees at high risk for long-term sickness absence receiving early consultation as compared to care as usual. Trial II compared the effect of a tailor made Problem Solving Therapy with elements of CBT at high risk for long-term sickness absence with mild depressive complaints to care as usual. Of the population (n=13,842) who filled in the screening questionnaire, (n=438) high risk employees were followed for six years.

It has been shown that a preventive strategy is able to reduce future long-term sickness absence over a period of one year from 31 to 18 days in the first trial (Kant et al., 2008) and from 50 to 27 days in the second trial (Lexis et al., 2011) which indicates a large potential to also reduce work disability risk. Since the analysis is currently ongoing the results will be presented at first at the conference. When this strategy is proven to be effective on the long-term, this strategy is promising for a reduction in work disability and broader implementation will be needed.

Barriers And Facilitators Of A Preventive Strategy To Prevent Future Long-term Sickness Absence And Work Disability. A Qualitative Study Among Employees And Employers.

Sophie H. Klasen, Ludovic G.P.M. van Amelsvoort, Inge Houkes, Nicole W.H. Jansen, IJmert Kant

Maastricht University, Netherlands, The

Objective: The prevention of work disability remains challenging. This research focuses on a preventive strategy which is proven effective in reducing sickness absence in the long-term. Thus, apparent also work disability risk. The strategy consists of a screening in which workers at high risk are identified, and subsequent early intervention by labor professionals. The implementation of this strategy appeared to be difficult though. The aim of this study is to identify and understand barriers and facilitators associated with the implementation of this preventive strategy as experienced by primary stakeholders (employees and employers) whether or not familiar with this strategy.

Methods:Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 9 employers and 11 employees. We used purposive sampling to obtain the perspectives of stakeholders with varying age, gender and degree of familiarity with the strategy. All interviews were transcribed and analyzed thematically.

Results: Employees generally expect positive outcomes of the preventive strategy, but report that an atmosphere of trust in the organization is important for serious employee participation and effectiveness.When asked about the preventive strategy, employees not depending on familiarity primarily talked about the screening questionnaire, neglecting the early intervention by the labor professionals. Employers were overall positive but those unfamiliar primarily talked about the screening questionnaire. As regards background and risk factors of sickness absence, employees and part of the employers focused on physical health and lifestyle, thereby neglecting mental health. Several misperceptions seem to exist about sickness absence and the preventive strategy which may inhibit implementation.

Conclusions: The basis, content and expected outcomes of the preventive strategy were not clear to employees. Misconception were also noticeable for the unfamiliar employers and to a lesser degree for the familiar employers. Better communication about risk factors of sickness absence and the preventive strategy itself, are needed for successful implementation of the strategy.

Employees With Long-term Health Conditions - A Diary Study Of Workplace Self-management Behaviour, Support Needs And Work Factors.

Sally Elizabeth Hemming

Loughborough University, United Kingdom

The prevalence of long-term health conditions is increasing and working people affected by conditions, are required to self-manage their health at work. Health condition management is increasingly popular in workplace health promotion, yet little is known about workplace self-management activity or support needs and how these vary over time. The self-management activities and experiences of people affected by conditions were explored using a workplace diary and journal, to gain a temporal and real time perspective. A fixed schedule 10-week longitudinal diary study was designed collecting quantitative and qualitative self-reported data. The FlexMR platform was used for an online diary and journal. Participants, recruited via a survey study, were asked to complete the diary on six occasions at two-week intervals. Diaries have been shown to be useful in examining health behaviours, assessing temporal changes. They have also been shown to be useful in exploring illness behaviours and for tracking self-management activities. The diary was made up of four tasks incorporating 17 questions in total. Participants were asked about their health condition status, self-management activities, workplace support needs and work engagement. An optional online journal function was also available for people to record in the moment activities and thoughts. One hundred and twenty-one participants were invited to take part in the diary study, 57 completed a diary entry with 18 participating fully. An understanding of long-term self-management behaviours of people affected by health conditions can potentially help employers provide workplace support to the benefit of working people. Study results identifying people’s typical workplace self-management and support needs, and the extent to which they vary over time will be presented. Furthermore, free text and online journal sections will be thematically analysed and presented.

Working With Disabilities – A Matter Of Time? First Results From The PROMI Project

Jana Felicitas Bauer, Susanne Groth, Mathilde Niehaus

University of Cologne, Germany


Time is money in the world of work, therefore the person that is most productive in a given time frame is often considered to be the best employee. This view of „good employees“ can pose a fundamental challenge to people with disabilites who usually have to deal with disability-related time expenditure. Due to disability-related time expenditure, the time budget that can be spent on actual work tasks may be reduced or the time needed to complete a given work task may be extended. This may in turn make it difficult to keep up with the above mentioned ideal of productivity – especially when working conditions are not flexible in terms of scheduling. The aim of the present study is therefore to explore different kinds of disability-related time expenditure that are relevant to working life.


The sample consists of participants of the project „PROMI – promoting inclusive doctoral studies“. N = 30 PhD students with disabilities that work part-time as research assistants at german universities were surveyed via an accessible online questionnaire.

First Results

Nearly all of the participants report some kind of work-relevant disability-related time expenditure. About 73% have to keep frequent medical or therapeutical appointments, over 65% indicate that they are involved in time-consuming bureaucratic issues e.g. connected to the application for disability benefits, 50% state that they need more brakes than others to be able to work efficiently, moreover especially the visually and hearing impaired report that they need more time than others to complete work tasks.


The first results indicate that disability-related time expenditure is a manifold and relevant topic that needs further examination. A goal of future research should be to identify working conditions that reduce the challenge of balancing disability- and work-related time demands.

The Effectiveness Of Interventions To Promote Sustainable Employability: A Systematic Review

Emmelie Hazelzet1, Eleonora Picco2, Inge Houkes1, Hans Bosma1, Angelique de Rijk1

1Maastricht University, Netherlands, The; 2University of Milano, Italy

Objective: Despite growing interest in sustainable employability (SE), studies on the effectiveness of interventions specifically developed to promote employee SE are scarce. Based on the definition by Van der Klink and colleagues, researchers and practitioners distinguish three SE components: 1) health; 2) productivity and 3) a long-term perspective. The aim of this review is to (1) summarize the evidence for the effectiveness of SE interventions used by employers; and (2) to examine which of the three SE components are addressed by these interventions.

Methods: A systematic search was performed for articles published in the Cinahl (Ebsco), EconLit (Ebsco), Embase, PsycInfo (Ebsco), Pubmed and Web of Science databases between January 1997 and June 2018. We established inclusion criteria which were applied manually in the selection of studies. The adapted Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies developed by the Effective Public Health Practice Project (EPHPP) was used to assess methodological quality. Data extraction was based on type of intervention, target group and the three SE components.

Results: Seven out of 25 potentially relevant articles were included in the review. The methodological quality of these seven studies ranged from weak to moderate. The overall effectiveness of the SE interventions was mixed (i.e., small positive effects of subcomponents of the interventions or no effectiveness). Preliminary findings showed that the health focus and productivity focus are more or less covered by the interventions, whereas the long-term perspective of SE is often lacking.

Conclusions: No firm conclusions regarding the effectiveness of SE interventions can be drawn. This can partly be explained by the relatively low quality of the studies included, but may also by the type of interventions used by employers to enhance their employees’ SE. More attention for high quality studies and effective SE interventions provided by the employer seems necessary.

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