Audit of sickness absence and fitness-for-work referrals

R. M. Agius, A. Seaton, R. J. Lee

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Since referrals in relation to sickness absence and fitness to continue work constitute an important part of occupational physicians' workloads, a study was carried out to audit this activity. Randomly selected referrals (u=162) were audited by external peer review in relation to the information provided in the referral request, the consultation records and responses of the occupational physicians, and the response times linking the referral, the consultation and the response. The study showed that the referral record was adequate when specifying or quantifying long-term absences (90% and 84% of relevant cases, respectively) but questions or information regarding other relevant issues were much less frequent, eg only 12% of the referral records provided a description of the job or task. The physicians' response rate was high in relation to likely date of return to work (96%) but lower for other relevant items. In all the issues audited, the frequency of the physicians' responses was higher than the frequency with which the relevant questions were posed to them, thus suggesting 'added value' in the formulation of the problem by the physicians. The response times (often interpreted as a measure of health care quality) did not correlate usefully with the completeness of the responses as determined by peer review audit. Occupational physicians should aspire to achieve a validated standard of assessment and communication which can be audited. © 1995.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)125-130
    Number of pages5
    JournalOccupational Medicine
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 1995


    • *Absenteeism
    • Humans
    • *Medical Audit
    • Occupational Health Services/*standards
    • Peer Review, Health Care
    • Referral and Consultation/*standards
    • Scotland
    • *Sick Leave


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