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Determinants of Sickness Absence and Return to Work Among Employees with Common Mental Disorders: A Scoping Review

Purpose: To present an overview of the existing evidence on prognostic factors of (recurrent) sickness absence (SA) and return to work (RTW) among workers with a common mental disorder (CMD). This scoping review provides information about determinants for SA and RTW, which could be used to develop better interventions aimed at the prevention of SA and promotion of RTW among workers with a CMD.

Methods: Relevant articles were identified in PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, PSYNDEX, and SINGLE up to October 2016. In order to be included, studies should provide insight into prognostic factors of SA or RTW of workers with a CMD. We classified all factors according to the domains of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health.

Results: Our searches identified 2447 possible relevant articles, of which 71 were included for data extraction. There is consistent evidence in ≥3 studies that previous episodes of CMD, higher symptom severity, previous absenteeism, co-morbidity, high job demands, low job control, high job strain, female gender, lower educational level, smoking behavior, and low perceived general health are predictors of SA in people with CMDs. Earlier RTW is consistently predicted by lower symptom severity, having no previous absenteeism, younger age, and positive expectations concerning sick-leave duration or RTW.

Conclusions: The amount of research on determinants for SA and RTW in workers with CMD has increased dramatically in recent years, although most studies are from the Netherlands and Scandinavia. There are some research gaps identified in this scoping review that need further attention in primary and secondary studies. Based on the summary of the evidence, we provide guidance for policy, practice and research.

This article is published in the "Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation", Volume 28, Issue 3, pp. 393-417.

First Online: 4 October 2017

Bibliographic information

H. de Vries, A. Fishta, B. Weikert, A. Rodriguez Sanchez, U. Wegewitz:
Determinants of Sickness Absence and Return to Work Among Employees with Common Mental Disorders: A Scoping Review. 
in: Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, Volume 28, Issue 3 2018. pages 393-417, Project number: F 2367, DOI: 10.1007/s10926-017-9730-1

download file "Determinants of Sickness Absence and Return to Work Among Employees with Common Mental Disorders: A Scoping Review" (PDF, 1 MB, Not barrier-free file)

Research Project

Project numberF 2367 StatusOngoing Project Scoping Review on determinants for a successful return-to-work and systematic overview on interventions to facilitate return to work among employees with mental disorders

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