Post-traumatic stress reactions and doctor-certified sick leave after a workplace terrorist attack: Norwegian cohort study

To explore the association between the psychosocial work environment and the risk of sick leave among governmental employees with symptom-defined post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a workplace bomb attack.

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Abstract

Objective: To explore the association between the psychosocial work environment and the risk of sick leave among governmental employees with symptom-defined post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a workplace bomb attack.

Design: A prospective study on employees who met the symptom criteria for PTSD. Questionnaire data on the psychosocial work environment 10 months after the terrorist attack was linked to registry data on doctor-certified sick leave in the period 12–22 months after the attack.

Setting: The bombing of the government ministries in Oslo, Norway, 22 July 2011.

Participants: The study sample consists of 94 Norwegian governmental employees, all with symptom-defined PTSD from the Norwegian version of the PTSD checklist (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist-Specific) measured 10 months after the attack.

Results: After adjustment for sex and severity of PTSD symptoms, predictability at work reduced the odds of sick leave (adjusted OR=0.62, 95% CI 0.40 to 0.98). Sense of control over decisions at work was associated with fewer absence days for employees with sick leave (adjusted rate ratio=0.61, 95% CI 0.38 to 0.98).

Conclusions: Employees with PTSD after workplace terrorism would benefit from control over their workplace conditions and increased predictability to reduce the risk of sick leave. The findings suggest that the work environment can facilitate employees’ work ability after stressful events, independent of severity of PTSD symptoms.

BMJ Open, 2020, doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2019-032693

Published Mar. 9, 2020 6:00 AM