skip to content

Project description

To tell or not to tell? Working with chronic (health) conditions.

An interactive online self-test for employees with disabilities and/or chronic conditions


In the light of demographic change, working with chronic (health) conditions or disabilities is the reality for a rising number of people. This, and the demand of equal vocational participation by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), gives this matter an urgent relevance, which is likely to increase in the future. Nevertheless, most companies do not have standard procedures in place of how to deal with employees with disabilities/chronic conditions. In the course of their working life many affected employees are confronted with the difficult question of whether or not to disclose aspects of their disability/chronic condition and how to do so.

There are a number of possible reasons for considering a disclosure in the workplace, such as the worsening of the health situation, absenteeism or a change in tasks. Being open about a chronic condition at work can generally have many advantages: affected employees often hope for support by their colleagues and supervisors or for workplace accommodations. Some simply don't want to hide their disability/chronic condition anymore. At the same time, they might fear negative consequences of disclosure, such as discrimination or being treated differently by supervisors and colleagues. The actual consequences of disclosure, both positive and negative, can be very different in each individual situation and may depend on a number of different aspects. Trying to consider all these aspects of the decision and influential factors, while weighing up positive against negative consequences to make an informed decision about disclosure can easily become overwhelming.


The aim of this project is the development and implementation of an interactive online self-test, which supports employees with chronic conditions and/or disabilities in making their own self-determined and informed decision on how to deal with their condition at work. The development of the website and its content will be based on relevant scientific research and can be applied to a variety of chronic conditions. Using an interactive design, users of the self-test will receive an individual feedback covering all important aspects of the disclosure decision. Furthermore, the self-test will offer a range of additional information about the topic and will include links to well-established support structures.


The self-test is developed based on scientific findings in the fields of motivation and decision-making, as well as research on chronic conditions and disabilities in the workplace. Throughout the development process there will be regular meetings with a committee of target group experts (employees with a chronic condition or disability) and an advisory board including relevant stakeholders (e.g. general practitioners, company doctors, self-help organizations, employee representatives, health insurance funds). Working together with both members of the target group and different stake-holders will help to ensure acceptability, awareness and usability of the website. The self-test will be implemented according to the German guidelines on accessibility of information technology (BITV 2.0).

Project duration

30 months

Project management

Prof. Dr. Mathilde Niehaus and Dr. Jana Bauer, University of Cologne, Chair of labour and vocational rehabilitation.


M.Sc. Veronika Chakraverty & M.Sc. Anja Greifenberg

Cooperation Partners

  • AbbVie Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG (AbbVie Germany )
  • Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Selbsthilfe von Menschen mit Behinderung und chronischer Erkrankung und ihren Angehörigen e.V. (BAG Selbsthilfe) (Federal association for self-help of people with disabilities and chronic health conditions and their families)
  • Verband Deutscher Betriebs- und Werksärzte e.V. (VDBW) (German association of company doctors)


  • Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales (BMAS) (Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs)
  • AbbVie Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG (AbbVie Germany)