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Sick of waiting: Does waiting for elective treatment cause sickness absence?

Sick of waiting: Does waiting for elective treatment cause sickness absence?

Category
Journal publication
Abstract
Sickness absence represents a substantial cost in most of Western Europe, whether the insurance scheme is public or private. The objective of this study was to analyse whether waiting time for elective treatment in specialist health care is associated with the length of individual sickness absence in Norway. To estimate the association between waiting time and the duration of sick leave, we used data from the working population aged 18–67 years in 2010–2012. The files combined register data from The Norwegian Patient Registry with individual characteristics and sickness absence data from Statistics Norway, and was analysed using zero-truncated negative binomial regression. We found that about one in four employees who had one or more spells of sick leave in the period, was also waiting for consultation or treatment in specialist health care. Yet, the length of the waiting period had no substantial effect on the length of sickness absence (i.e., less than 0.1% reduction). Therefore, while measures to reduce waiting times for hospital treatment in many instances could be beneficial for the individual patient, such policies would probably not have any substantial impact on the national sickness absence rate.
Language
English
Author(s)
Affiliation
  • SINTEF Digital / Health Research
Year
2016
Published in
Health Policy
ISSN
0168-8510
Publisher
Elsevier Science
Volume
120
Issue
12
Page(s)
1383 - 1388