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Open Access Study protocol

Implementation of the Participatory Approach to increase supervisors’ self-efficacy in supporting employees at risk for sick leave; design of a randomised controlled trial

Ruben A Kraaijeveld1, Frederieke G Schaafsma12*, Cécile RL Boot13, William S Shaw4, Ute Bültmann5 and Johannes R Anema12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public and Occupational Health, EMGO+ Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, PO Box 7057, Amsterdam, 1007 MB, The Netherlands

2 Research Centre for Insurance Medicine, Collaboration between AMC-UMCG-UWV-VUmc, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

3 Body@Work, Research Center Physical Activity, Work and Health, TNO-VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

4 Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, Hopkinton, MA, USA

5 Department of Health Sciences, Community & Occupational Medicine, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:750  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-750

Published: 13 August 2013

Abstract

Background

The burden of sick leave for society and organisations underlines the urgent need to prevent sick leave. An effective workplace intervention for organisations to shorten sick leave episodes is the Participatory Approach (PA). In this study, we hypothesize that implementation of the PA for supervisors within organisations may prevent sick leave as well. However, implementation of the PA within an organisation is difficult, and barriers at different levels (employee, supervisor and organisational) exist. Therefore, the primary aim of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of a multifaceted implementation strategy of the PA.

Methods

In a cluster randomised controlled trial (RCT) a multifaceted implementation of the PA will be compared with a minimal implementation strategy of the PA. Participating organisations are a university medical centre, a university and a steel factory. Randomisation will take place at department level. Intervention departments will receive a multifaceted implementation strategy of the PA, which incorporates a working group, supervisor training, and supervisor coaching. Control departments will receive the minimal implementation strategy of the PA, consisting of written information only. The primary outcome measure is self-efficacy of supervisors in joint problem solving to improve work functioning of employees with health complaints and to prevent sick leave. A secondary outcome measure at supervisor level is self-efficacy in communicating with employees about situations of reduced work functioning or being at risk for sick leave. Secondary outcome measures at employee level are attitude, self-efficacy, and social influence, with regard to addressing situations of reduced work functioning or being at risk for sick leave, as well as work functioning, psychological well being, and sick leave. Measurements will take place at baseline, and after six and twelve months follow-up. A process evaluation will be performed as well.

Discussion

This study will be relevant for all organisations with employees at risk for sick leave in health care, education, and industry. Study results will give an insight into the effectiveness of the multifaceted implementation strategy of the PA for supervisors to improve work functioning of employees with health complaints, and to prevent sick leave.

Trial registration

NTR3733

Keywords:
Participatory Approach; Sick leave; Supervisors; RCT