Presentation M O8

M O8 (Oral Presentation):
The presence of valued leadership qualities predicted return to work in sick-listed workers. The Rapid-Return-To-Work study

Presented by: Randi W. Aas


Aas RW1,2,3, Haveraaen L1, Skarpaas LS1,2, Berg JE2

  1. Presenter, Stavanger, Norway
  2. Faculty of Health, Oslo and Akershus University College, Oslo, Norway
  3. Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway



Supervisors play an important role in facilitating a safe and effective return to work (RTW) for employees on long-term sick leave. Previous research has revealed that the risk of long-term sickness absence increases with lower supervisor support and reduced management quality. Most of the studies, however, have assessed general supervisor support, without specifying support type or frequency of the support. Our previous explorative study on this subject revealed 78 distinct leadership qualities valued in a RTW process, for both the sick-listed employees and/or their supervisors. Based on the results from this study, 7 different leadership types were formed: the Protector; the Problem-Solver; the Encourager; the Recognizer; the Contact-Maker; the Trust-Creator; and the Responsibility-Maker. The aim of the present study was therefore, for the first time, to study whether the presence of these leadership qualities could predict return to work, and which of the leadership types were the most influential in the RTW process.


The study was designed as a cohort study of sick-listed employees (n=616) from a national return-to-work-programme in Norway (n=40 clinics). The first version of the Leadership Qualities in RTW-processes questionnaire (LQ-RTW) was used to gather information on leadership qualities. The sickness absentee filled out a self-administered questionnaire, and these data were combined with national register data on sickness absence. The participants were subsequently followed until eighteen months after enrolment to the return-to-work programme. To investigate the association between leadership qualities and time to first return to work (partial or full), the Kaplan-Meier method, and Cox proportional hazard regression analyses were applied.


The sick-listed employees reporting that their leaders often had the valued leadership qualities, returned to work on average 55 days (median, p = .029) earlier than employees reporting that the leadership qualities seldom were present (HR = 1.407, p = .007). Having a protective leader (The Protector) was found to be the strongest predictor of earlier return to work (p > .000).


Conclusion: Sick listed employees, who reported the valued leadership qualities to be often present, returned to work significantly earlier than those experiencing them more seldom. The feeling of being protected by the immediate supervisor was most important for securing a rapid return to work.

Schedule Details

Monday September 29
10:45 - 12:15 Morning Concurrent Sessions (M O1 - M O12 and Seminar 1)
Session: Supervisors’ involvement in Work Disability
Room A