PURPOSE: For persons on disability benefits who are facing multiple problems, active labour market policies seem less successful. Besides health problems, these people perceive personal, social, and environmental problems. Since very little is known about these "non-medical" problems our aim was to explore the prevalence of clients experiencing multiple problems, the types and number of perceived problems, combinations of perceived problems, and associated characteristics in a group of work disability benefit recipients.
METHODS: We performed a cross-sectional study, using self-reported data on perceived problems and socio-demographics, and register data from the Dutch Social Security Institute on diagnosed diseases and employment status. A convenient group of labour experts recruited eligible clients on work disability benefit.
RESULTS: Of the 207 persons on work disability benefit, 87% perceived having multiple problems. Most reported problems were related to physical (76%) or mental (76%) health. Health problems most frequently occurred together with a mismatch in education, financial problems, or care for family members. Clients with lower education experienced significantly more problems than clients with an intermediate or high educational level.
CONCLUSIONS: Clients with multiple problems face severe and intertwined problems in different domains of life, and need tailored multi-actor work disability management.Implications for rehabilitationClients with multiple problems face severe and intertwined problems in different domains of life; therefore, interventions tailored to deal with needs related to specific problems might be more effective than traditional programs.Interventions should match experienced barriers, and involve multi-actor work disability management with all the challenges of mutual cooperation.For persons with multiple problems a focus on pure medical barriers is too narrow, because personal, social, and environmental factors might also obstruct participation in work.