The number of claims for musculoskeletal disorders such as back pain fell by 50 per cent during the 11 year study period, dropping from 181,820 in 1997 to 84,420 in 2007, whilst claims for mental illness have remained at around a quarter of a million.
Researchers have said these large changes can’t be attributed to developments in working practices linked to musculoskeletal and back problems alone and nor can they be put down to assessment criteria as this has remained largely the same.
Medical Research Council professor David Coggon, from Southampton General Hospital who lead the study has suggested that the changes could be partly due to a change in peoples expectations and beliefs.
“If you say you’re trying to tackle hazards linked to workplace stress, it sends a message that people are exposed to ‘bad things’ and that affects reactions.” He said.
In order to combat this Coggon suggests the level of mental health claims be tackled by changing the approach to stress in the workplace with good management and also by ensuring individuals are coping with their workload.
Society of Occupational Medicine president, Dr Olivia Carlton, said: “A life on incapacity benefit means that many people lose their sense of self worth, identity and esteem and also places a huge financial burden on the country.”
View the original BBC News article.