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Return to Work After Long-Term Sick Leave: Stories of Employed Women With Common Mental Disorders

  • Erika Wall (a1) and John Selander (a1)


The aim of this study is to investigate the perceptions of female employees on long-term sickness absence due to common mental disorders (CMDs), in relation to what they perceive would best help them to return to work. Data were collected through a survey answered by employees at a municipality in Sweden on long-term sick leave. Results of the current study are based on a part of that material, namely from 56 women with CMDs who responded to the final open question. The analysis involves two steps. Initially, we explored themes that form the accounts in the findings. Secondly, based on the themes, collective narratives, storylines were identified. Three different storylines were found to be prominent in the findings. The storylines describe how the participants collectively expressed themselves in relation to the possibilities for return to work, and the following storylines were derived: It feels like too much, Things are moving too fast, and I have to get out of here!. The findings are related to perceived demands, control and support. From a disability management perspective, we have learned the importance of restoring the balance between demands, control and support — not only to prevent absence from work, but also to facilitate return to work after a period of long-term sickness.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Erika Wall, Associate Professor, Sociology, Division of Rehabilitation Science, Department of Health Sciences, Mid Sweden University, 831 25 Östersund, Sweden. Email:


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Return to Work After Long-Term Sick Leave: Stories of Employed Women With Common Mental Disorders

  • Erika Wall (a1) and John Selander (a1)


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