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Schneider, Antonius; Hilbert, Sven; Hamann, Johannes; Skadsem, Svenja; Glaser, Jürgen; Löwe, Bernd; Bühner, Markus (28. April 2017): The Implications of Psychological Symptoms for Length of Sick Leave. In: Deutsches Ärzteblatt international, Vol. 114, No. 17: pp. 291-297
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Abstract

Background: In this cross-sectional study, we aimed to determine the relation between sick leave duration, burnout symptoms, depression, anxiety, and somatization in a primary care setting. Methods: Patients receiving a sickness certificate in one of 14 participating primary care practices were consecutively asked by their primary care physician to fill in a questionnaire comprising the Maslach Burnout Inventory—General Survey (MBI-GS) and the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) containing the depression (PHQ-9), somatization (PHQ-15), and anxiety (GAD-7) scales. The main diagnosis on the sickness certificate was documented by the issuing physician. A quasi-Poisson regression analysis was performed to estimate the influence of burnout symptoms, depression, and anxiety on length of sick leave. Results: 225 patients participated, 122 (54.2%) were female; the mean age was 39.5 years. Length of sick leave correlated with emotional exhaustion (p = 0.005), depersonalization (p = 0.013), depression (p = 0.006), anxiety (p = 0.023), and somatization (p = 0.001). However, regression analysis revealed that the only predictors for length of sick leave were anxiety (exp[0.081] = 1.084; p = 0.013), age (exp[0.017] = 1.017; p = 0.041) and education (exp[- 0.508] = 0.602; p = 0:029). The pseudo R2 of the model was 0.25. Conclusion: The impact of anxiety on burnout symptoms and sick leave days might have been underestimated so far. A holistic approach in patient centered communication should comprise the evaluation of psychosomatic comorbidity under consideration of the established concepts of depression and anxiety disorder to ensure adequate diagnostic and therapeutic management.