Screening instrument predicts prolonged sickness absence
June 23, 2006 Leave a Comment
ABN AMRO Occupational Health Services and the University of Maastricht have together developed a screening instrument capable of predicting prolonged sickness absence. This instrument, known as the ‘Balance Meter’, has been externally validated in a study conducted among 10,000 ABN AMRO employees. The study shows that the Balance Meter is indeed capable of predicting which employees have an increased risk of future protracted sickness absence. Employees who are identified by the instrument as high-risk cases have between 8 and 16 times more chance of long-term sickness absence.
The Balance Meter consists of a list of questions about the respondent’s work and home life and health status. The unique aspect of the instrument is that employees with an increased risk of sickness absence can be identified before the absence actually occurs. This allows early intervention/counselling designed to prevent sickness absence. The study among 10,000 staff of ABN AMRO examined whether early intervention of this kind was effective. This did indeed prove to be the case. The rate of sickness absence of staff who received early counselling from ABN AMRO Occupational Health Services on the basis of a prediction by the Balance Meter of an increased risk of sickness absence was 35% lower than that of staff who did not receive early counselling.
ABN AMRO Occupational Health Services will introduce a preventive approach based on the positive findings of the study. As a result of the collaboration with the epidemiology research programme of the Occupational Health Department of the University of Maastricht, ABN AMRO Occupational Health Services is the only agency that is able to provide the combination of screening (Balance Meter) and early counselling. At present the team of the University of Maastricht and ABN AMRO Occupational Health Services is examining whether early treatment/counselling can be improved for staff with specific mental health problems. The Dutch organisation for health research and development (ZonMw) has provided a subsidy for this research project.
Source: University of Maastricht press release, 21 June 2006