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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Funding: The broader project was financially supported by a UK Legal Services firm.
Hemming, S., McDermott, H., Munir, F. and Burton, K. (2021), "Employer perspectives concerning the self-management support needs of workers with long-term health conditions", International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 440-458. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJWHM-02-2021-0030
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