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press release

The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) grants funding for the project "To tell or not to tell." / Under the direction of the University of Cologne, an online reflection aid for severely disabled chronically ill employees is being developed for the first time in cooperation with associations and the pharmaceutical industry.

Chronically ill people often ask themselves the question whether and how they should tell their colleagues or superiors about their illness. The Chair for Work and Vocational Rehabilitation at the University of Cologne works together with the research-based bio-pharmaceutical company AbbVie, Federal Association for Self-Help of People with Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses and their relatives   (BAG Selbsthilfe e.V.) and the Verband Deutscher Betriebs- und Werksärzte e.V. (Association of German Company and Works Physicians (VDBW e.V.). (VDBW e.V.) and the Verband Deutscher Betriebs- und Werksärzte e.V. (BAG Self-Help Association of German Works and Occupational Physicians). (VDBW) and the Verband Deutscher Betriebs- und Werksärzte e.V. (BAG Self-Help Association of German Works and Occupational Physicians). The project is financially supported by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS). The 30-month project phase begins when the funding decision is received.

Working with a chronic illness - against the background of demographic change, this is becoming more the rule than the exception. Nevertheless, many chronically ill people refrain from revealing their illness at work for fear of discrimination. "The step to a personal consultation in self-help organizations or by the operating physician is likewise a high hurdle , says Dr. Wolfang Panter, president of the VDBW. "An open approach can have numerous advantages, for example the support of colleagues and superiors or the relief of no longer having to hide the illness. Under the direction of the University of Cologne, the project "Sag ich's? Chronically ill at work" is therefore developing an online service that offers those affected low-threshold access to support and, if necessary, refers them to other counselling structures.

"We are working with a mixture of explanatory videos and questions to encourage reflection," explains Professor Dr. Mathilde Niehaus, head of the Chair for Work and Vocational Rehabilitation at the University of Cologne. "Our aim is to help chronically ill people make the best possible decision for themselves. And, of course, everything remains anonymous." The interactive reflection aid does not offer patent solutions, but should give feedback on the individual situation and help to be able to better assess the consequences of one's own decision. "Together with our partners, we continue to advocate equal participation of people with chronic illnesses in working life," affirms Dr. Patrick Horber, Managing Director of AbbVie Deutschland.

Scientific foundations and practical relevance are central to ensuring that the planned reflection aid provides meaningful support. This is why experts such as company doctors, self-help organisations, works councils and disabled representatives are involved in the development process. Above all, however, it is the perspective of those affected that counts: In a pilot study with 250 employees with chronic illnesses, initial findings on important framework conditions have already been gained. "The assumption that the climate and culture at the workplace play an important role in determining whether open interaction has positive consequences for those affected is empirically confirmed by the study," says Dr. Martin Danner, Managing Director of BAG Selbsthilfe.