The EASY (Early Access to Support for You) sickness absence service: a four-year evaluation of the impact on absenteeism

Brown, J. , Mackay, D. , Demou, E. , Craig, J., Frank, J. and Macdonald, E. (2015) The EASY (Early Access to Support for You) sickness absence service: a four-year evaluation of the impact on absenteeism. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, 41(2), pp. 204-215. (doi:10.5271/sjweh.3480) (PMID:25626136)

Brown, J. , Mackay, D. , Demou, E. , Craig, J., Frank, J. and Macdonald, E. (2015) The EASY (Early Access to Support for You) sickness absence service: a four-year evaluation of the impact on absenteeism. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, 41(2), pp. 204-215. (doi:10.5271/sjweh.3480) (PMID:25626136)

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Abstract

Objectives: In May 2008, the National Health Service (NHS) Lanarkshire (NHSL) implemented a unique telephone-based sickness absence management service entitled “EASY” (Early Access to Support for You). The EASY service supplements existing absence policies and enables telephone communication between the absentee, their line manager, and the EASY service from the first day of absence and referral to occupational health services at day ten. The aim of this study was to determine if the EASY service was effective between May 2008 and May 2012 in reducing sickness absence in NHSL compared to normal occupational healthcare in NHS Scotland and is, as such, a cost-saving intervention. Methods: This study included time-series analysis of health board sickness absence data and analyses of the EASY service database (survival analyses and Cox’s proportional hazards model). Results: The EASY service was effective in reducing sickness absence by 21% in NHSL, whereas the nonspecific tightening of the sickness absence policies across the rest of Scottish NHS health boards reduced sickness absence by approximately 9%. The richness of the EASY database gave detailed information on absentees by cause, duration, job family, and reporting compliance. The mean duration of musculoskeletal absences was significantly shorter in years 2, 3, and 4 compared to year 1. Those absentees contacted by phone on the first day of absence were more likely to return to work than those contacted on subsequent days. The EASY service improves economic efficiency; the value of the hours saved from the reduced sickness absence exceeds the cost of operating the service. Conclusion: The study highlights the importance of an early telephone-based intervention for sickness absence management.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Demou, Dr Evangelia and Brown, Dr Judith and MacDonald, Professor Ewan and Mackay, Dr Daniel
Authors: Brown, J., Mackay, D., Demou, E., Craig, J., Frank, J., and Macdonald, E.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Public Health
Journal Name:Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health
Publisher:Nordic Association of Occupational Safety and Health
ISSN:0355-3140
ISSN (Online):1795-990X
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health
First Published:First published in Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health 41(2):204-215
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
727641SPHSU Core Renewal: Setting and Health Improvement Research ProgrammeKathryn HuntMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/12IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
620221MRC SPHSU/GU Transfer FellowshipsLaurence MooreMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_PC_13027IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU