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Open Access Research article

Prognostic factors for disability claim duration due to musculoskeletal symptoms among self-employed persons

JM Richter1, BM Blatter12, J Heinrich1, EMM de Vroome1 and JR Anema234*

Author Affiliations

1 Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO, Hoofddorp, the Netherlands

2 Body@Work, Research Center on physical activity, work and health, TNO-VU/VUmc, Hoofddorp, the Netherlands

3 Department of Social Medicine, EMGO-institute for health and care research, VUmc, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

4 Research Center for Insurance Medicine AMC-UWV-VUmc, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:945  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-945

Published: 22 December 2011



Employees and self-employed persons have, among others, different personal characteristics and different working conditions, which may influence the prognosis of sick leave and the duration of a disability claim. The purpose of the current study is to identify prognostic factors for the duration of a disability claim due to non-specific musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) among self-employed persons in the Netherlands.


The study population consisted of 276 self-employed persons, who all had a disability claim episode due to MSD with at least 75% work disability. The study was a cohort study with a follow-up period of 12 months. At baseline, participants filled in a questionnaire with possible individual, work-related and disease-related prognostic factors.


The following prognostic factors significantly increased claim duration: age > 40 years (Hazard Ratio 0.54), no similar symptoms in the past (HR 0.46), having long-lasting symptoms of more than six months (HR 0.60), self-predicted return to work within more than one month or never (HR 0.24) and job dissatisfaction (HR 0.54).


The prognostic factors we found indicate that for self-employed persons, the duration of a disability claim not only depends on the (history of) impairment of the insured, but also on age, self-predicted return to work and job satisfaction.

Work disability predictors; special worker populations; musculoskeletal problems