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Determinants of a successful return to work among persons with common mental disorders: a mixed-methods-follow-up-study (Project 2a)

Project number: F 2385 Institution: Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) Status: Completed Project


Returning to work (RTW) due to common mental disorders is a complex process at the intersection between the medical healthcare system and the workplace that is influenced by many factors.

The mixed-methods follow-up study aimed to investigate in depth the RTW process from inpatient treatment in clinics to a complete return to work, combining quantitative and qualitative research methods. The quantitative study investigated which health-related, personal, and work-related factors influence the time to first and full RTW.

The study included 286 participants who were interviewed by phone at four points in time (at the end of the hospital stay and after 6, 12, and 18 months). The overall response rate after 18 months was 91%.

The vast majority (94%) returned to work during the survey period. Health-related and personal factors were associated with the time to first RTW. Additionally, leadership quality and the need for individual guidance and support were associated with time to full RTW.

The time and ways back to work after treatment varied according to the treatment setting. Overall, it was found that for a timely and coordinated return, early preparation by the medical healthcare system as well as stronger cooperation with the key RTW stakeholders in the workplace may be helpful.



Unit 3.5 "Evidence-based Occupational Health, Workplace Health Management"

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