Problematic sickness absence is an issue that concerns not only occupational health physicians, but all physicians. More collaboration between occupational health and treating physicians, plus improved alignment of symptom treatment and reintegration counselling, can help avoid long-term sickness absence of employees. Achieving this goal presupposes mutual knowledge of each other’s professions. Medical practice guidelines are a tool par excellence to share knowledge and bring this into practice. Treating physicians should not refrain from posing work-related and return-to-work questions, even if the overall responsibility lies with the occupational health physicians in terms of reintegration efforts. The patient’s interest should be the leading principle for all physicians involved. This means not only provision of good care, aimed at patient recovery, but also adequate reintegration in the labour market. Occupational health physicians, general practitioners and consultant specialists should share this common goal.
Conflict of interest and financial support: ICMJE forms provided by the authors are available online along with the full text of this article.