Journal article

Work ability as obscure, complex and unique : Views of Swedish occupational therapists and physicians


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Publication Details

Subtitle: Views of Swedish occupational therapists and physicians

Author list: Edlund, Curt

Publication year: 2013

Start page: 117

End page: 128

Number of pages: 12

ISSN: 1051-9815


View additional information: View in Web of Science


The concept of work ability is not clearly defined although it has a central place in vocational rehabilitation. Several health professions are involved in assessing work ability, physicians and occupational therapists are two of these. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to explore occupational therapist and physician views about work ability and experiences in assessing work ability. PARTICIPANTS: Fourteen physicians and 23 occupational therapists participated in seven focus group discussions that were audio taped and transcribed verbatim. METHODS: Qualitative content analysis was used. Each author performed an individual preliminary analysis. These analyses were later discussed and refined in the research team and a workshop. The final categorization resulted in one theme, four categories and 13 sub-categories. RESULTS: The overall theme expressed work ability as an obscure, complex and unique concept. The four categories illustrate the affecting factors and confirm the complex structure of work ability: the person, the context of life, the work, and the society. Physicians expressed greater difficulty in assessing work ability than occupational therapists did, because they have fewer instruments to access this concept. CONCLUSIONS: Assessment of work ability requires team cooperation with several different professionals. Cooperation could increase accuracy in issuing sickness certification and strengthens the ability of identifying individual requirements for rehabilitation.


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