Effectiveness of occupational health care in mental health issues

Mental health problems are a major cause of work disability. We will use registers data to examine how occupational health care measures help prevent work disability related to mental health problems.

We examine the effectiveness of occupational health care and its distribution according to different employee groups and sectors. We will identify the effective occupational healthcare practices in supporting work ability when people experience mental health-related challenges. We will also strive to ensure equality in occupational health care development.
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So far, there is little evidence of the effectiveness of statutory occupational health care services in preventing work disability related to mental health problems. At this time, we do not know

  • whether the use or effectiveness of services is divided between different groups of employees, or
  • if there are inequalities between the  employee groups in terms of mental health symptoms, the support applied for and working conditions.

We will examine how the use of mental health services in occupational health care is divided

  • between employee groups 
  • and the sector and size of companies.

We will identify possible differences in the use of occupational health care services. In addition, we will examine the association  between the use of services and sick leaves. In other words, our research will combine a study on the effectiveness of occupational health care and a study assessing the use of occupational health care and inequalities in its effectiveness.

Data and methods

We will use extensive national register data, comprising the occupational healthcare register from Terveystalo Oy, Finland's largest provider of occupational healthcare services. Register data from Kela, the Finnish Centre for Pensions and Statistics Finland has been  linked to the occupational healthcare register. The Finnish Social and Health Data Permit Authority Findata and Statistics Finland have granted data permits for the use of the datasets.

The register research will be complemented with the Quality of work life survey 2023, which was coordinated by Statistics Finland and conducted in cooperation with the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and the Finnish Work Environment Fund in 2023. 

Results and impact

The project will provide information that represents a wide range of different employee groups. This can help in identifying factors that affect the effectiveness of occupational health care. The results will also help in directing the policy measures to improve occupational health care services. This will enable the equal development of occupational healthcare.

Utilisation of results

The study will help in identifying issues related to the use of occupational health services and the early development of mental health work disability. This information will benefit workplaces, occupational health care operators, Kela and ministries. Employees will also benefit from the results, as the results will help to identify groups of employees who do not currently receive occupational healthcare services  according to their needs.

Our experts

Sanna Selinheimo

Sanna Selinheimo

sanna.selinheimo [at]
+358 30 474 2760

Working group

Jaakko Airaksinen, Senior Specialist

Kia Gluschkoff, Senior Specialist

Heli Järnefelt, Specialist Researcher  

Johanna Kausto, Specialist Researcher  

Olli Kurkela, Senior Specialist

Talvikki Susiluoma, Communications Specialist

Aki Vuokko, Deputy Chief Physician

Ari Väänänen, Research Professor

In co-operation with

Terveystalo Oy

Funded by

Finnish Work Environment Fund and The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health