Presentation T O34

T O34 (Oral Presentation):
Experts’ opinions about needed changes in return to work services in Norway. The Rapid-Return-to-Work study

Presented by: Randi W. Aas


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

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



Since 2001, the Norwegian government has implemented several new services for sick-listed employees. The largest effort, called “The rapid-return to work programme” was implemented in 2007, and has so far had a total cost of 5.5 billion NOK. The aim of this study was to explore the problems sick-leave experts experience in return to work services, and to identify the changes they see as necessary for further improvements.


The study was designed as a Delphi-study in two phases. First 32 experts met for a focus group discussion. The experts were all types of actors, dealing with services for sick-listed in different roles. The group started with the participants writing down the three most needed changes. This section was followed by an open group discussion, which was taped and transcribed to text afterwards, and analysed by use of content analysis. The second phase consisted of answering a questionnaire where the problems/changes revealed in the first phase were formulated as statements. Consensus was achieved when there was a 70% agreement between the participants. The snowball-method was used to recruit the participants, and a total of 609 experts participated in the study.


218 different meaning units were identified in the first phase; 84 were written and 134 were retrieved from the group interview. The informants suggested problems and needed changes in seven different areas: national organisation of services (n=74 meaning units), target-group issues (n=39), competence in the service (n=31), paradigm and service content challenges (n=28), cooperation and coordination (n=24), services continuity (n=12), and referral to services (n=10). In the survey, consensus was found for only 1/3 of the statements. Half of the suggested changes were challenges in the “competence of the service” for sick-listed, also including the need for better access to research based knowledge. None of the statement about “paradigm and service content” achieved consensus, but the employers- and employee organisations achieved consensus on a need for a paradigm shift in these services.


Developing return to work services for sick-listed in Norway seems still be in an initial phase, with a lack of consensus on several core issues. These types of services seem to have competence challenge, where experts agreed upon explicit future changes.

Schedule Details

Tuesday September 30
15:45 - 17:30 Afternoon Concurrent Sessions (T O25 - T O38 and Seminar 6)
Session: Social Interventions for work disability
Room A