Purpose The present study investigated the relations between work characteristics, depressive symptoms and duration until full return to work (RTW) among long-term sick-listed employees. This knowledge may add to the development of effective interventions and prevention, especially since work characteristics can be subjected to interventions more easily than many disorder-related or personal factors. Methods this prospective cohort study with a two-year follow-up employs a sample of 883 Dutch employees who had been sick-listed for at least 13 weeks at baseline, who filled out three questionnaires: at 19 weeks, 1 and 2 years after the start of sick leave. The dependent measure was duration until full RTW. Results not working (partially) at baseline, low decision authority, high psychological demands, low supervisor support and low RTW self-efficacy were related to more depressive symptoms. The duration until full RTW was longer for employees with depressive symptoms. Low physical exertion, high RTW self-efficacy, working partially at baseline, being married or cohabiting, and young age were related to less time until full RTW. Other work characteristics appeared no independent predictors of RTW. Conclusions although the role of job demands and job resources in the RTW process is limited for long-term sick-listed employees with depressive symptoms, a few work characteristics are prognostic factors of full RTW. Focus on these elements in the selection or development of interventions may be helpful in preventing sickness absence, and in supporting long-term sick-listed employees towards full RTW.
Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 28, 2017
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