The influence of prior training on GPs’ attitudes to sickness absence certification post-fit note
Annemarie Money, Mark Hann, Susan Turner, Louise Hussey and Raymond Agius
To investigate the attitudes to health and work of general practitioners (GPs) with training in occupational medicine (OM) compared with non-OM trained GPs, since the introduction of the fit note. Background Changes to the UK sickness certification system since 2010 and the introduction of the fit note required GPs to change their focus to what patients can do, rather than what they cannot do in relation to work. In an effort to reduce the UK sickness absence burden, GPs completion of the fit note should help to keep people in work, or assist patients to return to work as quickly as possible after a period of absence. Methods Questionnaire data were collected via the 7th National General Practitioner Worklife Survey. Findings Results indicate that responses from GPs who had undertaken training in OM, and GPs having received some form of work and health training in the 12-month period before the study were associated with significantly more positive attitudes to patients’ returning to work and to the fit note. This study reveals evidence of a difference between trained and non-trained GPs in their attitude to the fit note, and to work and health generally. Further work investigating the effect of specific training in OM on the management and recognition of ill-health by GPs is recommended.