Article

Effectiveness of guideline-based care by occupational physicians on the return-to-work of workers with common mental disorders: design of a cluster-randomised controlled trial

Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Tranzo Scientific Center for Care and Welfare, Tilburg University, PO Box 90153, Tilburg, 5000 LE, The Netherlands. .
BMC Public Health (Impact Factor: 2.32). 03/2013; 13:193. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-193
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Sickness absence due to common mental disorders (such as depression, anxiety disorder, adjustment disorder) is a problem in many Western countries. Long-term sickness absence leads to substantial societal and financial costs. In workers with common mental disorders, sickness absence costs are much higher than medical costs. In the Netherlands, a practice guideline was developed that promotes an activating approach of the occupational physician to establish faster return-to-work by enhancing the problem-solving capacity of workers, especially in relation to their work environment. Studies on this guideline indicate a promising association between guideline adherence and a shortened sick leave duration, but also minimal adherence to the guideline by occupational physicians. Therefore, this study evaluates the effect of guideline-based care on the full return-to-work of workers who are sick listed due to common mental disorders.
This is a two-armed cluster-randomised controlled trial with randomisation at the occupational physician level. During one year, occupational physicians in the intervention group receive innovative training to improve their guideline-based care whereas occupational physicians in the control group provide care as usual. A total of 232 workers, sick listed due to common mental disorders and counselled by participating occupational physicians, will be included. Data are collected via the registration system of the occupational health service, and by questionnaires at baseline and at 3, 6 and 12 months. The primary outcome is time to full return-to-work. Secondary outcomes are partial return-to-work, total number of sick leave days, symptoms, and workability. Personal and work characteristics are the prognostic measures. Additional measures are coping, self-efficacy, remoralization, personal experiences, satisfaction with consultations with the occupational physician and with contact with the supervisor, experiences and behaviour of the supervisor, and the extent of guideline adherence.
If the results show that guideline-based care in fact leads to faster and sustainable return-to-work, this study will contribute to lowering personal, societal and financial costs.
ISRCTN86605310.

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    ABSTRACT: Sick leave due to mental disorders is a societal problem. It carries a high cost in terms of loss of labor productivity and absenteeism. Partial remission increases the risk of relapse after a return to work. There is sometimes a difference between the ability to return to work as judged by a general practitioner (GP) and the needs of the workplace. GPs are the main controllers of treatment and tend to protect their patients. Communication and agreement by GPs and occupational physicians play an effective role in the return to work. However, it requires considerable effort for both of them to make time to do this. We have developed a concise set of files for a smooth return to work. The files consist of three parts: "Suggestions for corresponding with employees taking sick leave"; "Checklist for smooth return to work"; and "Pattern of living". We put them into practice among 20 companies in Japan from January 2012 to October 2013. The companies had 8244 workers in total and 116 workers were on sick-leave due to mental disorders. Our set of files contributed to sharing the written basic policy of return to work among employees on sick leave with mental disorders, GPs, occupational physicians and personnel officers. That sharing led to facilitating a smooth return to work. Although there are differences in the legal and medical systems between Japan and other countries, our concept of sharing the written basic policy may give some help to occupational physicians in other parts of the world as well.
    SpringerPlus 11/2013; 2:630. DOI:10.1186/2193-1801-2-630

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