Doctors providing sickness certificates might be doing more harm than good for ailing people, according to a new study.
Dr Debra Dunstan of the University of New England in Armidale said that extended absence from work can put a relatively well person in long-term unemployment.
In the new study, Dunstan showed an alarming rise in sickness certification with a 70pct increase in requests in Australia, during the past nine years.
Doctors might think that they are doing a patient a favour by giving them extended work leave but the long-term worklessness might have an adverse impact on people's health.
It can lead to people smoking 10 packets of cigarettes a day.
It is also "said to have more impact on life expectancy than killer diseases such as cardiovascular illness and cancer".
Dunstan has raised concerns over people with common ailments such as musculoskeletal problems and mild to moderate mental health issues, who are receiving extended certified absences from work.
"The level of work disability attributed to commonly occurring conditions is on the rise," ABC Online quoted Dunstan as saying.
After 12 weeks off work, the risk of becoming long-term unemployed rises dramatically.
By six months, a person on extended sick leave has only a 20pct chance of being in the workforce in five years' time.
"Adults are meant to work," she said.
"They get their social connectedness, a sense of identity and a sense of purpose from work," she added.
With long-term unemployment people's quality of life and physical and mental health also deteriorates. They are also at an increased risk of suicide.
Dunstan said for work-related mental health problems, such as stress and anxiety, absence from work is the wrong treatment.