Employer perspectives concerning the self-management support needs of workers with long-term health conditions

Sally Hemming, Hilary McDermott, Fehmidah Munir, Kim Burton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose
Long-term health conditions are a significant occupational and global burden and can undermine people's ability to work. Workplace support for self-management of long-term conditions has the potential to minimise adverse work effects, by enhancing health and work outcomes. No data exist about employers' views concerning supporting workers with long-term conditions to self-manage.

Design/methodology/approach
The exploration of employers' views involved recruiting 15 participants with responsibilities for workplace health, well-being and safety responsibilities, who participated in a semi-structured interview about self-management and support. Data were analysed using a qualitative six-stage thematic analysis technique.

Findings
Self-management support is not purposely provided to workers with long-term conditions. Support in any form rests on workers disclosing a condition and on their relationship with their line-manager. While employers have considerable control over people's ability to self-manage, they consider that workers are responsible for self-management at work. Stigma, work demands and line-manager behaviours are potential obstacles to workers' self-management and support.

Practical implications
Workplace discussions about self-managing long-term conditions at work should be encouraged and opened up, to improve health and work outcomes and aligned with return-to-work and rehabilitation approaches. A wider biopsychosocial culture could help ensure workplaces are regarded as settings in which long-term conditions can be self-managed.

Originality/value
This study highlights that employer self-management support is not provided to workers with long-term conditions in a purposeful way. Workplace support depends on an employer knowing what needs to be supported which, in turn, depends on aspects of disclosure, stigma, work demands and line management
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-458
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Workplace Health Management
Volume14
Issue number4
Early online date22 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2021

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