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February/March 2015 (vol. 11/5)

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Research Plus

Depression and return to work

Workers off sick with depression can return to work sooner if given appropriate workplace interventions, such as work modifications and coaching in addition to their regular care, according to this Cochrane systematic review. It included 23 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and cluster RCTs of both work-directed and clinical interventions where the outcome measure was sickness absence. There is moderate-quality evidence from three studies that a work-directed intervention on top of a clinical intervention reduces sickness absence compared to a clinical intervention alone (standardised mean difference (SMD) = -0.40; CI -0.66– -0.14). There is moderate-quality evidence from three studies that online or telephone-based cognitive behavioural therapy is more effective than usual care (SMD = -0.23; CI -0.45– -0.01), and high-quality evidence from one paper that a structured telephone outreach and care management programme, which systematically assessed, facilitated and monitored treatment needs, was more effective in reducing sickness absence than usual care (SMD = -0.21; CI -0.37– -0.05). 

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014; 12: CD006237. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006237.pub3.


Occupational Health at Work February/March 2015 (vol. 11/5) pp40