Do work- and home-related demands and resources differ between women and men during return-to-work? A focus group study among employees with common mental disorders
BMC Public Health
Background Common mental disorders present the main reason for registered sick leave in Sweden today, and women are at a higher risk of such sick leave than men. The aim of our study was to explore how the experiences of work- and home-related demands as well as resources influence return-to-work among employees sick-listed for common mental disorders in Sweden. Specifically, we aimed to explore similarities and differences in patterns of experiences among women and men. Methods A qualitative
... ods A qualitative design with semi-structured focus group interviews was applied. One pilot interview and six additional focus groups, with a total of 28 participants, were conducted. The focus group discussions were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Data was analyzed with conventional content analysis. Results The analysis resulted in four main categories and eight sub-categories. While the study aim was to explore aspects of work and home, additional considerations related to internal demands and involved actors were also found. The main and sub-categories were "Home-related demands and resources" (sub-categories: "Not on sick leave for home-related demands", "Feeling responsible for relationships and the well-being of others", "An affected economy" and "Finding energizing activities and creating routines"), "Work-related demands and resources" (sub-categories: "Encountering tough emotions and an over-bearing feeling of responsibility at work", "Continued work-related demands create un-certainty about the future", "Loss of boundaries" and "(Desired) support from managers and colleagues"), "Internal demands and resources" and "Demands and resources linked to involved actors". The experiences described among women and men were similar in some categories while patterns of experiences differed in others. Conclusions Home-related demands and resources influence return-to-work among women and men sick-listed for common mental disorders in Sweden, also when work-related demands are experienced as the main reason for the sick leave period. Furthermore, several of these aspects were described differently among women and men, which highlights the need to consider possible gender differences in relation to return-to-work, while maintaining attention to individual variations.