Sick Leave Questions in Telephone Nursing: Perspectives of Persons on Sick Leave and Registered Nurses in Primary Health Care

  • Date:
  • Location: Auditorium Minus, Gustavianum, Akademigatan 3, Uppsala
  • Doctoral student: Lännerström, Linda
  • About the dissertation
  • Organiser: Allmänmedicin och preventivmedicin
  • Contact person: Lännerström, Linda
  • Disputation

Disputation

Aim and methods: To explore experiences of being on sick leave by interviewing 16 persons on sick leave and using a phenomenological approach. To explore registered nurses’ work in the care of persons on sick leave by performing three focus group discussions with registered nurses. To explore the effect and experiences of an educational intervention in social insurance medicine with registered nurses by studying the effect of a randomized controlled study with 100 registered nurses and by interviewing 12 registered nurses who participated in the intervention.

Findings: The essential meaning of being on long-term sick leave was losing one’s independence. This loss was connected to mostly negative experiences of being absent from work, the social insurance rules, and experiences in encounters with many professionals.

The registered nurses’ work in handling sick leave questions included assessing, dispositioning, supporting, and collaborating actions. They expressed lacking competence, had different understandings of their role, and experienced stress connected to contradictory demands in their roles as carers, co-workers, and distributors of organizational resources.

The short educational intervention in social insurance medicine seemed to have had an effect, but due to the small study population, the effect was inconclusive. The process evaluation showed that the educational intervention was perceived to have contributed to registered nurses gaining role clarity in their work with sick leave questions. The registered nurses described increasing their knowledge and skills as well as taking on more of the traditional actions related to telephone nursing, for example giving more information and being more attentive, coaching, and encouraging towards patients.

Conclusions: Being on long-term sick leave can be experienced negatively, and can be connected to several dimensions of life. Registered nurses at the studied primary health care centres had a role in the care of patients on sick leave, but had different understandings of their role that affected how they handled telephone calls with them. The educational intervention failed to show a conclusive effect due to the rather small study population. However, the registered nurses experienced that participating had enhanced their competence.