Understanding why some emergency workers require long term sick leave

Amongst both emergency workers and in the general population there is considerable individual difference in rates of sickness absence.  Put simply, two workers with identical symptoms will often require very different amounts of sickness absence.  We suspect that part of the reason for this relates to factors such as perceived vulnerability, individual reactions to symptoms, the work environment and the individual’s attitudes to work and employment.  Together with colleagues from King’s College London, we have developed a new scale that aims to test these non-health predictors of sickness absence.  It is hoped that by developing a validated way to measure such factors we can then progress to considering how such ideas can be challenged and modified.  We are using parts of this new scale in an ongoing cohort study of new recruits to Fire and Rescue NSW in order to test how these factors impact the psychological resilience of emergency workers.