Sickness certification for common mental disorders and GP return-to-work advice
Primary Health Care Research and Development
AimTo report the types and duration of sickness certification for different common mental disorders (CMDs) and the prevalence of GP advice aimed at returning the patient to work.BackgroundIn the United Kingdom, common mental health problems, such and depression and stress, have become the main reasons for patients requesting a sickness certificate to abstain from usual employment. Increasing attention is being paid to mental health and its impact on employability and work capacity in all parts
... acity in all parts of the welfare system. However, relatively little is known about the extent to which different mental health diagnoses impact upon sickness certification outcomes, and how the GP has used the new fit note (introduced in 2010) to support a return to work for patients with mental health diagnoses.MethodsSickness certification data was collected from 68 UK-based general practices for a period of 12 months.FindingsThe study found a large part of all sickness absence certified by GPs was due to CMDs (29% of all sickness absence episodes). Females, younger patients and those living in deprived areas were more likely to receive a fit note for a CMD (compared with one for a physical health problem). The highest proportion of CMD fit notes were issued for 'stress'. However, sickness certification for depression contributed nearly half of all weeks certified for mental health problems. Only 7% of CMD fit notes included any 'may be fit' advice from the GP, with type of advice varying by mental health diagnostic category. Patients living in the most socially deprived neighbourhoods were less likely to receive 'may be fit' advice on their CMD fit notes.