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1.  Early coordinated multidisciplinary intervention to prevent sickness absence and labour market exclusion in patients with low back pain: study protocol of a randomized controlled trial 
Background
Musculoskeletal disorders account for one third of the long-term absenteeism in Denmark and the number of individuals sick listed for more than four weeks is increasing. Compared to other diagnoses, patients with musculoskeletal diseases, including low back pain, are less likely to return to work after a period of sick leave. It seems that a multidisciplinary intervention, including cooperation between the health sector, the social sector and in the work place, has a positive effect on days off work due to musculoskeletal disorders and particularly low back pain. It is a challenge to coordinate this type of intervention, and the implementation of a return-to-work (RTW)-coordinator is suggested as an effective strategy in this process. The purpose of this paper is to describe the study protocol and present a new type of intervention, where the physiotherapist both has the role as RTW-coordinator and treating the patient.
Methods/design
A randomized controlled trial (RCT) is currently on-going. The RCT includes 770 patients with low back pain of minimum four weeks who are referred to an outpatient back centre. The study population consists of patients, who are sick-listed or at risk of sick-leave due to LBP. The control group is treated with usual care in a team of a physiotherapist, a chiropractor, a rheumatologist and a social worker employed at the centre. The Intervention group is treated with usual care and in addition intervention of a psychologist, an occupational physician, an ergonomist, a case manager from the municipal sickness benefit office, who has the authority in the actual case concerning sickness benefit payment and contact to the patients employer/work place. The treating physiotherapist is the RTW-coordinator. Outcome will be reported at the end of treatment as well as 6 and 12 months follow up. The primary outcome is number of days off work. Secondary outcomes are disability, pain, and quality of life. The study will follow the recommendations in CONSORT-statement in designing and reporting RCTs.
Discussion
This large RCT is testing the effectiveness of a preventive intervention targeting patients on short term sick leave or at risk being sick listed because of low back pain. We have developed a novel multidisciplinary team structure using the treating physiotherapist as the return to work coordinator, and having the case manager from the municipal sickness benefit office participating in team meetings. The study has the potential to contribute to the knowledge about how to target the challenges in the treatment of LBP. The aim is to prevent sickness absence and labour market exclusion - both on the individual level and economic costs at community level. Short term results will be available in 2014.
This study is approved by the Danish Regional Ethics Committee (J.nr: H-C-2008-112) and is registered at.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01690234
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-14-93
PMCID: PMC3606127  PMID: 23496897
Low back pain (LBP); Return to work (RTW); Sickness absence; Rehabilitation; Prevention; Multidisciplinary intervention; Coordination; Denmark
2.  NICE guidance on long-term sickness and incapacity 
The British Journal of General Practice  2011;61(584):e118-e124.
Long-term sickness absence and incapacity benefits (disability pension) rates have increased across industrialised countries. Effective measures are needed to support return to work. The recommendations of this guidance were informed by the most appropriate available evidence of effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. Public health evidence was provided by research using a variety of study designs that attempted to determine the outcome of a particular intervention by evaluating status before and after the intervention had been effected, and was not limited to randomised control trials. Where the evidence base was depleted or underdeveloped, expert witnesses were called to give their opinion on the best available evidence and emerging interventions. The process enabled challenge and contestability from stakeholder groups at different points as the guidance was developed. Forty-five heterogeneous studies were included in the review of interventions to reduce long-term sickness absence and transitions from short-term to long-term absence (mainly covering the former and also mainly examining musculoskeletal conditions). The analysis of evidence was restricted to descriptive synthesis. Three general themes emerged from an analysis of the studies that were more likely to report positive results: early interventions; multidisciplinary approaches; and interventions with a workplace component. Two further reviews were undertaken, one on interventions to reduce the re-occurrence of sickness absence, which identified seven studies on lower back pain, and concluded that early intervention and direct workplace input are important factors. The final evidence review focused on six studies of interventions for those in receipt of incapacity benefit. The evidence was that work-focused interviews coupled with access to tailored support are effective and cost-effective interventions. Practitioners should consider the impact of interventions and management options on work ability for patients of working age. Work ability should be considered a key outcome for future intervention studies.
doi:10.3399/bjgp11X561221
PMCID: PMC3047344  PMID: 21375894
evidence-based medicine; guideline; sick leave; sick leave, cost; work capacity evaluation
3.  Prevention of relapsing backache 
Background
The condition of non-specific back pain is characterized by high prevalence, non satisfactory therapeutic options and severe socioeconomic consequences. Therefore prevention seems an attractive option to downsize the problem. However, the construction of effective preventive measures is complicated by the obscure aetiology of the condition, the multidimensionality of risk and prognostic factors (bio psychosocial model!) and the variability of its natural as well as clinical course. This led to the development of a wide variety of preventive measures: e. g. exercise programs, educational measures (including back school), ergonomic modification of the work environment, mechanical supports (e. g. back belts) as well as multidisciplinary interventions. For two reasons the workplace seems to be a suitable setting for prevention. First, because a number of strong risk factors are associated with working conditions and second, because it allows addressing a large proportion of the adult population. Against this background the assessment at hand sets out to answer the following questions:
What is the amount and methodological quality of the available scientific literature on the effectiveness of back pain prevention in the workplace environment? What are effective measures for the prevention of back pain and its consequences in the workplace environment and how effective are they? Is back pain prevention in the workplace environment cost-effective? Is there a need for more research? As primary outcomes for effectiveness the assessment will focus on time lost from work and the frequency and duration of episodes with back pain. The preventive measures assessed belong to the following categories: exercise programs, educational and information measures, multidimensional interventions, back belts, lifting teams and ergonomic interventions.
Methods
The assessment is based on a systematic review of the published literature according to the methodological requirements of DAHTA. Proceedings of the electronic literature searches are documented in the appendix. In addition references of review articles were searched. Methodological quality of publications (systematic reviews, HTA reports) was assessed using the checklists developed by the German Scientific Working Group for Technology Assessment in Health Care (GSWGTAHC) or with the Jadad-Score (controlled trials) respectively. Due to the large number of relevant publications the assessment is mainly based on data reported by systematic reviews and supplemented by the results of newer trials. A separate economic assessment was not performed because of the low amount of available data. An assessment of ethical, legal and social impact was omitted due to resource constraints.
Results
For preventive interventions based on exercise programs most of the analysed trials demonstrate some effectiveness. Due to the heterogeneity of the programs it is not possible to conclude whether positive effects are associated with a special type, duration or intensity of exercise. For purely educational measures or information strategies applied in a workplace setting the available trials were not able to demonstrate effectiveness. Back school programs, which in addition to theoretical instructions offer intensive exercising may in the short term, be successful in reducing the incidence of new episodes of back pain. Some trials in high risk groups demonstrate effectiveness of multidimensional interventions on time lost from work. These programs include education and exercise as well as cognitive behavioural interventions to change pain perception. The assessment of the benefits of back belts for the prevention of back pain is based on results of high quality efficacy as well as effectiveness trials. Their results imply for the otherwise healthy working population no protective effect of back belts on time lost from work due to back pain, on the incidence of painful episodes or on days with impairment by back pain. So far there are no data from controlled trials that demonstrate the effectiveness of "lifting teams" in nursing care to prevent back pain or its consequences. However, results from uncontrolled pilot studies indicate a potential for effectiveness. Among "ergonomic interventions" three different approaches have to be distinguished: interventions addressing changes of the workplace setting, interventions addressing the individual's behaviour and combined interventions. Studies evaluating the effectiveness of setting interventions (modification of the physical workplace environment, changes of production processes, organisational changes) yield no dependable results. This conclusion is not based on indifferent trial results but rather on the lack of methodologically sound studies. Results from studies on ergonomic interventions addressing the individual confirm the conclusions drawn for exercise and educational measures. The most marked results are found in trials that examine the effectiveness of combined interventions in high risk groups and contain a strong participatory component. Hardly any of the trials studying the effects of ergonomic interventions satisfied methodological quality criteria that are accepted standard for clinical or public health intervention studies.
There were no data allowing firm conclusions on the cost-effectiveness of interventions from any of the categories.
Discussion
The significance of the results of the assessment at hand is strongly limited by the comprehensiveness of the questions addressed. Reviewing the literature on the basis of (even systematic) review articles impairs the differentiated examination of the role of target groups, program contents, application and duration, effect sizes and context factors. While the methodological quality of the review articles is quite high, the quality of individual trials (even those included in the review papers) is highly variable. While most trials examining preventive interventions addressed at individuals satisfy at least some methodological requirements many studies dealing with setting interventions do not.
Conclusions
In conclusion, sound scientific evidence for the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of back pain prevention in the workplace environment is still quite scarce. Further research should include:
The development of interventions guided by the bio psychosocial model of back pain aetiology that combines individual prevention as well as measures addressing the workplace environment.The integration of results from basic ergonomic research into prevention concepts and the conduct of trials focussing outcomes with relevance to health.at the workplace setting. The conduct of qualitative studies to identify factors that impair the effectiveness of prevention programs (e. g. motivation, compliance, people skills).The integration of cost-effectiveness evaluations into all interventional studies.
PMCID: PMC3011361  PMID: 21289963
4.  Subgroup analyses on return to work in sick-listed employees with low back pain in a randomised trial comparing brief and multidisciplinary intervention 
Background
Multidisciplinary intervention is recommended for rehabilitation of employees sick-listed for 4-12 weeks due to low back pain (LBP). However, comparison of a brief and a multidisciplinary intervention in a randomised comparative trial of sick-listed employees showed similar return to work (RTW) rates in the two groups. The aim of the present study was to identify subgroups, primarily defined by work-related baseline factors that would benefit more from the multidisciplinary intervention than from the brief intervention.
Methods
A total of 351 employees sick-listed for 3-16 weeks due to LBP were recruited from their general practitioners. They received a brief or a multidisciplinary intervention. Both interventions comprised clinical examination and advice by a rehabilitation doctor and a physiotherapist. The multidisciplinary intervention also comprised assignment of a case manager, who made a rehabilitation plan in collaboration with the patient and a multidisciplinary team. Using data from a national database, we defined RTW as no sickness compensation benefit disbursement for four consecutive weeks within the first year after the intervention. At the first interview in the clinic, it was ensured that sick leave was primarily due to low back problems.Questionnaires were used to obtain data on health, disability, demographic and workplace-related factors. Cox hazard regression analyses were used with RTW as outcome measure and hazard rate ratios (HRR = HRmultidisciplinary/HRbrief) were adjusted for demographic and health-related variables. An interaction term consisting of a baseline variable*intervention group was added to the multivariable regression model to analyse whether the effects of the interventions were moderated by the baseline factor. Subsequently, a new study was performed that included 120 patients who followed the same protocol. This group was analyzed in the same way to verify the findings from the original study group.
Results
The multidisciplinary intervention group ensured a quicker RTW than the brief intervention group in a subgroup with low job satisfaction, notably when claimants were excluded. The opposite effect was seen in the subgroup with high job satisfaction. When claimants were excluded, the effect was also in favour of the multidisciplinary intervention in subgroups characterised by no influence on work planning and groups at risk of losing their job. Inversely, the effect was in favour of the brief intervention in the subgroups who were able to influence the planning of their work and who had no risk of losing their job due to current sick leave. Interaction analysis of the data in the new study displayed similar or even more pronounced differences between subgroups in relation to intervention type.
Conclusions
Multidisciplinary intervention seemed more effective than brief intervention in subgroups of patients with low job satisfaction, no influence on work planning and feeling at risk of losing their jobs due to their sick leave as compared with subgroups not fulfilling these criteria.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-12-112
PMCID: PMC3121658  PMID: 21612625
5.  Sustainability of return to work in sick-listed employees with low-back pain. Two-year follow-up in a randomized clinical trial comparing multidisciplinary and brief intervention 
Background
Sick-listed employees with low back pain had similar return to work (RTW) rates at one-year follow-up in a randomized trial comparing two interventions, but the effects were modified by specific workplace related factors. The present study addressed the sustainability of the intervention effects by performing a two-year follow-up and by using different outcome measures.
Methods
A total of 351 employees sick-listed for 3–16 weeks due to LBP were recruited from their general practitioners and were randomly allocated to a hospital-based brief or multidisciplinary intervention. Outcome measures were based on sick leave registered in a national database of social and health-related benefits. RTW rates, RTW status, sick leave weeks and sick leave relapse were studied.
Results
During the two-year follow-up 80.0% and 77.3% had RTW for at least four weeks continuously, and the percentages with RTW at the 104th week were 61.1% and 58.0% in the brief and multidisciplinary intervention groups, respectively. At the 104th week 16.6% and 18.8% were on sick leave in the two groups, respectively, and about 12% were employed in modified jobs or participated in job training. The number of weeks on sick leave in the first year was significantly lower in the brief intervention group (median 14 weeks) than in the multidisciplinary intervention group (median 20 weeks), but during the second year the number of weeks on sick leave were not significantly different between intervention groups. Subgroups characterised by specific work related factors modified the effect of the intervention groups on RTW rates (p = 0.017). No difference in sick leave relapse was found between the intervention groups.
Conclusion
The effects of the brief and multidisciplinary interventions at the two-year follow-up were in general similar to the effects at one-year follow-up.
Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN18609003
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-13-156
PMCID: PMC3488486  PMID: 22920158
Return to work; Sick leave; Relapse; Low back; Multidisciplinary
6.  Screening of the hearing of newborns - Update 
Introduction
Permanent congenital bilateral hearing loss (CHL) of moderate or greater degree (≥40 dB HL) is a rare disease, with a prevalence of about 1 to 3 per 1000 births. However, it is one of the most frequent congenital diseases. Reliance on physician observation and parental recognition has not been successful in the past in detecting significant hearing loss in the first year of life. With this strategy significant hearing losses have been detected in the second year of life. With two objective technologies based on physiologic response to sound, otoacoustic emissions (OAE) and auditory brainstem response (ABR) hearing screening in the first days of life is made possible.
Objectives
The objective of this health technology assessment report is to update the evaluation on clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of newborn hearing screening programs. Universal newborn hearing screening (UHNS) (i), selective screening of high risk newborns (ii), and the absence of a systematic screening program are compared for age at identification and age at hearing aid fitting of children with hearing loss. Secondly the potential benefits of early intervention are analysed. Costs and cost-effectiveness of newborn hearing screening programs are determined. This report is intended to make a contribution to the decision making whether and under which conditions a newborn hearing screening program should be reimbursed by the statutory sickness funds in Germany.
Methods
This health technology assessment report updates a former health technology assessment (Kunze et al. 2004 [1]). A systematic review of the literature was conducted, based on a documented search and selection of the literature using predefined inclusion and exclusion criteria and a documented extraction and appraisal of the included studies. To assess the cost-effectiveness of the different screening strategies in Germany the decision analytic Markov state model which had been developed in our former health technology assessment report was updated.
Results
Universal newborn hearing screening programs are able to substantially reduce the age at identification and the age at intervention of children with CHL to six months of age in the German health care setting. High coverage rates, low fail rates and - if tracking systems are implemented – high follow-up-rates to diagnostic evaluation for test positives were achieved. New publications on potential benefits of early intervention could not be retrieved. For a final assessment of cost-effectiveness of newborn hearing screening evidence based long-term data are lacking. Decision analytic models with lifelong time horizon assuming that early detection results in improved language abilities and lower educational costs and higher life time productivity showed a potential of UNHS for long term cost savings compared to selective screening and no screening. For the short-term cost-effectiveness with a time horizon up to diagnostic evaluation more evidence based data are available. The average costs per case diagnosed range from 16,000 EURO to 33,600 EURO in Germany and hence are comparable to the cost of other implemented newborn screening programs. Empirical data for cost of selective screening in the German health care setting are lacking. Our decision analytic model shows that selective screening is more cost-effective but detects only 50% of all cases of congenital hearing loss.
Discussion
There is good evidence that UNHS-Programs with appropriate quality management can reduce the age at start of intervention below six months. Up to now there is no indication of considerable negative consequences of screening for children with false positive test results and their parents. However, it is more difficult to prove the efficacy of early intervention to improve long-term outcomes. Randomized clinical trials of the efficacy of early intervention for children with CHL hearing losses are inappropriate because of ethical reasons. Prospective cohort studies with long-term outcomes of rare diseases are costly, take a long time and simultaneously substantial benefits of early intervention for language development seem likely.
Conclusions
A UNHS-Program should be implemented in Germany and be reimbursed by the statutory sickness funds. To achieve high coverage and because of better conditions for obtaining low false positive rates UNHS should be performed in hospital after birth. For outpatient deliveries additionally screening measures in an outpatient setting must be provided.
PMCID: PMC3011344  PMID: 21289971
7.  Reducing sick leave by minimal postal intervention: a randomised, controlled intervention study 
Background
The lack of efficient medical interventions for combating increasing sickness absence rates has lead to the introduction of alternative measures initiated by the Norwegian National Insurance Service or at workplaces.
Aim
To determine whether minimal postal intervention had any effect on the length of sick leave.
Methods
Randomised, controlled trial with a one year follow up in Northern Norway in 1997 and 1998; 990 consecutive newly sick‐listed persons with musculoskeletal or mental disorders were studied. Within the intervention group, 495 eligible sick‐listed persons received a general information letter and a questionnaire as their sick leave passed 14 days. Possible intervention effects were analysed by survival analysis of the probability of returning to work within one year, and logistic regressions with benefits at one year as the dependent variable.
Results
The overall reduction of 8.3 (95% CI −22.5 to 6.0) calendar days in mean length of sick leaves in the intervention group compared to controls, was not statistically significant. However, intervention significantly reduced length of sick leaves in subgroups with mental disorders, and with rheumatic disorders and arthritis, and overall for sick leaves lasting 12 weeks or more. Young people with low back pain showed an adverse effect to intervention. The overall relative risk of receiving benefits due to sickness after one year in the intervention group was 0.69 (95% CI 0.51 to 0.93) compared to controls.
Conclusion
The results should encourage employers, insurance institutions, and authorities to initiate challenges as questions on the length of sick leave and possible modified work measures, during the first few weeks of sick leave, for at least some groups of sick‐listed persons.
doi:10.1136/oem.2005.020438
PMCID: PMC2078047  PMID: 16644897
musculoskeletal; randomised controlled trial; sickness absence; sick leave; sick‐listed persons
8.  Cost-effectiveness of a participatory return-to-work intervention for temporary agency workers and unemployed workers sick-listed due to musculoskeletal disorders: design of a randomised controlled trial 
Background
Within the working population there is a vulnerable group: workers without an employment contract and workers with a flexible labour market arrangement, e.g. temporary agency workers. In most cases, when sick-listed, these workers have no workplace/employer to return to. Also, for these workers access to occupational health care is limited or even absent in many countries. For this vulnerable working population there is a need for tailor-made occupational health care, including the presence of an actual return-to-work perspective. Therefore, a participatory return-to-work program has been developed based on a successful return-to-work intervention for workers, sick-listed due to low back pain.
The objective of this paper is to describe the design of a randomised controlled trial to study the (cost-)effectiveness of this newly developed participatory return-to-work program adapted for temporary agency workers and unemployed workers, sick-listed due to musculoskeletal disorders, compared to usual care.
Methods/Design
The design of this study is a randomised controlled trial with one year of follow-up. The study population consists of temporary agency workers and unemployed workers sick-listed between 2 and 8 weeks due to musculoskeletal disorders. The new return-to-work program is a stepwise program aimed at making a consensus-based return-to-work implementation plan with the possibility of a (therapeutic) workplace to return-to-work. Outcomes are measured at baseline, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. The primary outcome measure is duration of the sickness benefit period after the first day of reporting sick. Secondary outcome measures are: time until first return-to-work, total number of days of sickness benefit during follow-up; functional status; intensity of musculoskeletal pain; pain coping; and attitude, social influence and self-efficacy determinants. Cost-benefit is evaluated from an insurer's perspective. A process evaluation is part of this study.
Discussion
For sick-listed workers without an employment contract there can be gained a lot by improving occupational health care, including return-to-work guidance, and by minimising the 'labour market handicap' by creating a return-to-work perspective. In addition, reduction of sickness absence and work disability, i.e. a reduction of disability claims, may result in substantial benefits for the Dutch Social Security System.
Trial registration
Trial registration number: NTR1047.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-11-60
PMCID: PMC2858719  PMID: 20346183
9.  Manage at work: a randomized, controlled trial of a self-management group intervention to overcome workplace challenges associated with chronic physical health conditions 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:515.
Background
The percentage of older and chronically ill workers is increasing rapidly in the US and in many other countries, but few interventions are available to help employees overcome the workplace challenges of chronic pain and other physical health conditions. While most workers are eligible for job accommodation and disability compensation benefits, other workplace strategies might improve individual-level coping and problem solving to prevent work disability. In this study, we hypothesize that an employer-sponsored group intervention program employing self-management principles may improve worker engagement and reduce functional limitation associated with chronic disorders.
Methods
In a randomized controlled trial (RCT), workers participating in an employer-sponsored self-management group intervention will be compared with a no-treatment (wait list) control condition. Volunteer employees (n = 300) will be recruited from five participating employers and randomly assigned to intervention or control. Participants in the intervention arm will attend facilitated group workshop sessions at work (10 hours total) to explore methods for improving comfort, adjusting work habits, communicating needs effectively, applying systematic problem solving, and dealing with negative thoughts and emotions about work. Work engagement and work limitation are the principal outcomes. Secondary outcomes include fatigue, job satisfaction, self-efficacy, turnover intention, sickness absence, and health care utilization. Measurements will be taken at baseline, 6-, and 12-month follow-up. A process evaluation will be performed alongside the randomized trial.
Discussion
This study will be most relevant for organizations and occupational settings where some degree of job flexibility, leeway, and decision-making autonomy can be afforded to affected workers. The study design will provide initial assessment of a novel workplace approach and to understand factors affecting its feasibility and effectiveness.
Trial registration
Clinicaltrials.gov: NCT01978392 (Issued November 6, 2013)
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-515
PMCID: PMC4051380  PMID: 24885844
Chronic health conditions; Workplace; Coping; Pain management; RCT; Presenteeism
10.  Improving the recruitment activity of clinicians in randomised controlled trials: a systematic review 
BMJ Open  2012;2(1):e000496.
Background
Poor recruitment to randomised controlled trials (RCTs) is a widespread problem. Provision of interventions aimed at supporting or incentivising clinicians may improve recruitment to RCTs.
Objectives
To quantify the effects of strategies aimed at improving the recruitment activity of clinicians in RCTs, complemented with a synthesis of qualitative evidence related to clinicians' attitudes towards recruiting to RCTs.
Data sources
A systematic review of English and non-English articles identified from: The Cochrane Library, Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid EMBASE, Ovid PsycINFO, Ebsco CINAHL, Index to Theses and Open SIGLE from 2001 to March 2011. Additional reports were identified through citation searches of included articles.
Study eligibility criteria
Quantitative studies were included if they evaluated interventions aimed at improving the recruitment activity of clinicians or compared recruitment by different groups of clinicians. Information about host trial, study design, participants, interventions, outcomes and host RCT was extracted by one researcher and checked by another. Studies that met the inclusion criteria were assessed for quality using a standardised tool, the Effective Public Health Practice Project tool. Qualitative studies were included if they investigated clinicians' attitudes to recruiting patients to RCTs. All results/findings were extracted, and content analysis was carried out. Overarching themes were abstracted, followed by a metasummary analysis. Studies that met the inclusion criteria were assessed for quality using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme qualitative checklist.
Data extraction
Data extraction was carried out by one researcher using predefined data fields, including study quality indicators, and verified by another.
Results
Eight quantitative studies were included describing four interventions and a comparison of recruiting clinicians. One study was rated as strong, one as moderate and the remaining six as weak when assessed for quality using the Effective Public Health Practice Project tool. Effective interventions included the use of qualitative research to identify and overcome barriers to recruitment, reduction of the clinical workload associated with participation in RCTs and the provision of extra training and protected research time. Eleven qualitative studies were identified, and eight themes were abstracted from the data: understanding of research, communication, perceived patient barriers, patient–clinician relationship, effect on patients, effect on clinical practice, individual benefits for clinicians and methods associated with successful recruitment. Metasummary analysis identified the most frequently reported subthemes to be: difficulty communicating trial methods, poor understanding of research and priority given to patient well-being. Overall, the qualitative studies were found to be of good quality when assessed using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme checklist.
Conclusions
There were few high-quality trials that tested interventions to improve clinicians' recruitment activity in RCTs. The most promising intervention was the use of qualitative methods to identify and overcome barriers to clinician recruitment activity. More good quality studies of interventions are needed to add to the evidence base. The metasummary of qualitative findings identified understanding and communicating RCT methods as a key target for future interventions to improve recruitment. Reinforcement of the potential benefits, both for clinicians and for their patients, could also be a successful factor in improving recruitment. A bias was found towards investigating barriers to recruitment, so future work should also encompass a focus on successfully recruiting trials.
Article summary
Article focus
A systematic review to identify and synthesise evidence of evaluations of interventions aimed at improving clinician recruitment activity in RCTs, and evidence of clinicians' attitudes towards recruiting to RCTs.
Key messages
Evidence-based recruitment interventions aimed at supporting/incentivising clinicians are necessary for future RCTs to recruit successfully. However, evidence of successful interventions is currently limited, and interventions are being used that have limited evidential grounding. The most promising intervention identified by this review was the use of qualitative methods embedded in host RCTs to define appropriate methods, targeted at clinicians, relevant to the context of the individual studies.
The review of qualitative evidence identified a number of themes relating to clinicians' attitudes towards recruitment to RCTs. The metasummary isolated targets for future interventions aimed at improving clinicians' recruitment activity. Of particular interest were communication of trial methods, education to remove misunderstanding of trial methods and reinforcement of the potential benefits of RCTs, both for clinicians and for their patients.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Strengths
This review encompasses both quantitative and qualitative evidence regarding clinician involvement in recruiting to RCTs. As such, it highlights the available evidence, successful and unsuccessful interventions, areas of uncertainty and also targets for the design of future interventions.
Qualitative data were managed and synthesised according to a set methodology and are therefore a step beyond simple narrative review. Qualitative metasummary can be the final product of a synthesis project or used as the initial step in a metasynthesis project. The purpose of qualitative metasummary was to determine how frequently each abstracted thematic finding occurred in the included studies. Qualitative metasummary is appropriate for synthesising studies that are thematic summaries or surveys of data.
Limitations
The quality of evidence varied, and the review includes a wide range of study designs, making comparisons of interventions difficult. It is clear that RCTs of trial recruitment interventions are perceived to be difficult to carry out, so other study designs are commonly used. RCTs of recruitment interventions should be encouraged in order to increase the quality of currently available evidence.
Methodological challenges included designing a broad search to encompass qualitative and quantitative research, quality assessment of various quantitative study designs by one set of criteria and standardising the data extraction and synthesis of qualitative evidence. There are no set guidelines regarding the synthesis of qualitative and quantitative evidence, but it is clear that for many review questions limiting the included study designs would lead to empty reviews.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000496
PMCID: PMC3253423  PMID: 22228729
11.  Effectiveness of early part-time sick leave in musculoskeletal disorders 
Background
The importance of staying active instead of bed rest has been acknowledged in the management of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). This emphasizes the potential benefits of adjusting work to fit the employee's remaining work ability. Despite part-time sick leave being an official option in many countries, its effectiveness has not been studied yet. We have designed a randomized controlled study to assess the health effects of early part-time sick leave compared to conventional full-day sick leave. Our hypothesis is that if work time is temporarily reduced and work load adjusted at the early stages of disability, employees with MSDs will have less disability days and faster return to regular work duties than employees on a conventional sick leave.
Methods/Design
The study population will consist of 600 employees, who seek medical advice from an occupational physician due to musculoskeletal pain. The inclusion requires that they have not been on a sick leave for longer than 14 days prior to the visit. Based on the physician's judgement, the severity of the symptoms must indicate a need for conventional sick leave, but the employee is considered to be able to work part-time without any additional risk. Half of the employees are randomly allocated to part-time sick leave group and their work time is reduced by 40–60%, whereas in the control group work load is totally eliminated with conventional sick leave. The main outcomes are the number of days from the initial visit to return to regular work activities, and the total number of sick leave days during 12 and 24 months of follow-up. The costs and benefits as well as the feasibility of early part-time sick leave will also be evaluated.
Conclusion
This is the first randomised trial to our knowledge on the effectiveness of early part-time sick leave compared to conventional full-time sick leave in the management of MSDs. The data collection continues until 2011, but preliminary results on the feasibility of part-time sick leave will be available already in 2008. The increased knowledge will assist in better decision making process regarding the management of disability related to MSDs.
Trial Registration
International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number Register, register number ISRCTN30911719
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-9-23
PMCID: PMC2267790  PMID: 18294405
12.  Work disability benefits due to musculoskeletal disorders among Brazilian private sector workers 
BMJ Open  2011;1(1):e000003.
Objective
To evaluate the prevalence and characteristics of disability benefits due to musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) granted to Brazilian private sector workers.
Methods
This was a population-based epidemiological study of MSD-related benefits among registered private sector workers (n=32 959 329). The prevalence (benefits/10 000 workers/year) of work disability benefits was calculated by gender, age, state, Human Development Index (HDI), economic activity, MSD type and work-relatedness.
Results
The prevalence of MSD-related benefits in Brazil among registered private sector workers in 2008 was 93.6/10 000 workers. The prevalence increased with age, and was higher for women (112.2) than for men (88.1), although the former had shorter benefit duration. The gender-adjusted prevalence by state varied from 16.6 to 90.3 for non-work-related, and from 7.8 to 59.6 for work-related benefits. The Brazilian states with a high–very high HDI had the highest prevalence. The top four most common types of MSD-related benefits were due to back pain, intervertebral disc disorders, sinovitis/tenosynovitis and shoulder disorders.
Conclusion
MSD is a frequent cause of work disability in Brazil. There were differences in prevalence among economic activities and between states grouped by HDI. This study demonstrates that further evaluation of the contributing factors associated with MSD-related disability benefits is required. Factors that should be considered include production processes, political organisation, socioeconomic and educational characteristics, the compensation and recording systems, and employee–employer power relationships. These factors may play an important role in the prevalence of MSD-related disability benefits, especially in countries with large socioeconomic iniquities such as Brazil.
Article summary
Article focus
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are a major cause of disability worldwide.
The prevalence and distribution of MSD among Brazilian workers are not well known.
This article evaluates the prevalence and characteristics of disability benefits due to MSD granted to Brazilian private sector workers.
Key messages
The prevalence of MSD-related benefits among registered Brazilian private sector workers in 2008 was 93.6/10 000 workers, with the top four most common benefits being due to back pain, intervertebral disc disorders, sinovitis/tenosynovitis and shoulder disorders.
This study demonstrates that further evaluation of the contributing factors associated with MSD-related disability benefits is required and should assess the production processes, political organisation, socioeconomic and educational characteristics, the compensation and recording systems, and employee–employer power relationships.
These factors may play an important role in the prevalence of MSD-related disability benefits, especially in countries with large socioeconomic iniquities such as Brazil.
Strengths and limitations of this study
All employed workers with a registered job in the private sector were analysed (32 959 329 workers). Prevalence was adjusted by gender, age and category of benefit (work-related or non-work-related). This initial descriptive study provides some baseline data on the magnitude of the problem. The data may be used for future comparisons and to evaluate the effectiveness of prevention programs. The strength of this paper is that it supplies information which could be useful in the implementation of an occupational health policy to reduce MSD. One of the limitations is that it only includes data from registered workers although there are many non-registered workers in Brazil. Another limitation is that this study depends on the quality of the data recorded by the National Insurer (NI) of the Brazilian Ministry of Social Insurance.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000003
PMCID: PMC3191405  PMID: 22021719
13.  Intervention mapping for development of a participatory return-to-work intervention for temporary agency workers and unemployed workers sick-listed due to musculoskeletal disorders 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:216.
Background
In the past decade in activities aiming at return-to-work (RTW), there has been a growing awareness to change the focus from sickness and work disability to recovery and work ability. To date, this process in occupational health care (OHC) has mainly been directed towards employees. However, within the working population there are two vulnerable groups: temporary agency workers and unemployed workers, since they have no workplace/employer to return to, when sick-listed. For this group there is a need for tailored RTW strategies and interventions. Therefore, this paper aims to describe the structured and stepwise process of development, implementation and evaluation of a theory- and practise-based participatory RTW program for temporary agency workers and unemployed workers, sick-listed due to musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). This program is based on the already developed and cost-effective RTW program for employees, sick-listed due to low back pain.
Methods
The Intervention Mapping (IM) protocol was used to develop a tailor-made RTW program for temporary agency workers and unemployed workers, sick-listed due to MSD. The Attitude-Social influence-self-Efficacy (ASE) model was used as a theoretical framework for determinants of behaviour regarding RTW of the sick-listed worker and development of the intervention. To ensure participation and facilitate successful adoption and implementation, important stakeholders were involved in all steps of program development and implementation. Results of semi-structured interviews and 'fine-tuning' meetings were used to design the final participatory RTW program.
Results
A structured stepwise RTW program was developed, aimed at making a consensus-based RTW implementation plan. The new program starts with identifying obstacles for RTW, followed by a brainstorm session in which the sick-listed worker and the labour expert of the Social Security Agency (SSA) formulate solutions/possibilities for suitable (therapeutic) work. This process is guided by an independent RTW coordinator to achieve consensus. Based on the resulting RTW implementation plan, to create an actual RTW perspective, a vocational rehabilitation agency is assigned to find a matching (therapeutic) workplace. The cost-effectiveness of this participatory RTW program will be evaluated in a randomised controlled trial.
Conclusion
IM is a promising tool for the development of tailor-made OHC interventions for the vulnerable working population.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-216
PMCID: PMC2718881  PMID: 19573229
14.  VIP in construction: systematic development and evaluation of a multifaceted health programme aiming to improve physical activity levels and dietary patterns among construction workers 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:89.
Background
The prevalence of both overweight and musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) in the construction industry is high. Many interventions in the occupational setting aim at the prevention and reduction of these health problems, but it is still unclear how these programmes should be designed. To determine the effectiveness of interventions on these health outcomes randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are needed. The aim of this study is to systematically develop a tailored intervention for prevention and reduction of overweight and MSD among construction workers and to describe the evaluation study regarding its (cost-)effectiveness.
Methods/Design
The Intervention Mapping (IM) protocol was applied to develop and implement a tailored programme aimed at the prevention and reduction of overweight and MSD. The (cost-) effectiveness of the intervention programme will be evaluated using an RCT. Furthermore, a process evaluation will be conducted. The research population will consist of blue collar workers of a large construction company in the Netherlands.
Intervention
The intervention programme will be aimed at improving (vigorous) physical activity levels and healthy dietary behaviour and will consist of tailored information, face-to-face and telephone counselling, training instruction (a fitness "card" to be used for exercises), and materials designed for the intervention (overview of the company health promoting facilities, waist circumference measuring tape, pedometer, BMI card, calorie guide, recipes, and knowledge test).
Main study parameters/endpoints
The intervention effect on body weight and waist circumference (primary outcome measures), as well as on lifestyle behaviour, MSD, fitness, CVD risk indicators, and work-related outcomes (i.e. productivity, sick leave) (secondary outcome measures) will be assessed.
Discussion
The development of the VIP in construction intervention led to a health programme tailored to the needs of construction workers. This programme, if proven effective, can be directly implemented.
Trial registration
Netherlands Trial Register (NTR): NTR2095
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-89
PMCID: PMC3280176  PMID: 22289212
Obesity/overweight; Musculoskeletal disorders; RCT; Energy balance related behaviour; Physical activity; Dietary behaviour; Construction workers; Intervention mapping
15.  Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia 
Executive Summary
In early August 2007, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began work on the Aging in the Community project, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding healthy aging in the community. The Health System Strategy Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care subsequently asked the secretariat to provide an evidentiary platform for the ministry’s newly released Aging at Home Strategy.
After a broad literature review and consultation with experts, the secretariat identified 4 key areas that strongly predict an elderly person’s transition from independent community living to a long-term care home. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these 4 areas: falls and fall-related injuries, urinary incontinence, dementia, and social isolation. For the first area, falls and fall-related injuries, an economic model is described in a separate report.
Please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site, http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/mas_about.html, to review these titles within the Aging in the Community series.
Aging in the Community: Summary of Evidence-Based Analyses
Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Social Isolation in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
The Falls/Fractures Economic Model in Ontario Residents Aged 65 Years and Over (FEMOR)
This report features the evidence-based analysis on caregiver- and patient-directed interventions for dementia and is broken down into 4 sections:
Introduction
Caregiver-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Economic Analysis of Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Caregiver-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Objective
To identify interventions that may be effective in supporting the well-being of unpaid caregivers of seniors with dementia living in the community.
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Dementia is a progressive and largely irreversible syndrome that is characterized by a loss of cognitive function severe enough to impact social or occupational functioning. The components of cognitive function affected include memory and learning, attention, concentration and orientation, problem-solving, calculation, language, and geographic orientation. Dementia was identified as one of the key predictors in a senior’s transition from independent community living to admission to a long-term care (LTC) home, in that approximately 90% of individuals diagnosed with dementia will be institutionalized before death. In addition, cognitive decline linked to dementia is one of the most commonly cited reasons for institutionalization.
Prevalence estimates of dementia in the Ontario population have largely been extrapolated from the Canadian Study of Health and Aging conducted in 1991. Based on these estimates, it is projected that there will be approximately 165,000 dementia cases in Ontario in the year 2008, and by 2010 the number of cases will increase by nearly 17% over 2005 levels. By 2020 the number of cases is expected to increase by nearly 55%, due to a rise in the number of people in the age categories with the highest prevalence (85+). With the increase in the aging population, dementia will continue to have a significant economic impact on the Canadian health care system. In 1991, the total costs associated with dementia in Canada were $3.9 billion (Cdn) with $2.18 billion coming from LTC.
Caregivers play a crucial role in the management of individuals with dementia because of the high level of dependency and morbidity associated with the condition. It has been documented that a greater demand is faced by dementia caregivers compared with caregivers of persons with other chronic diseases. The increased burden of caregiving contributes to a host of chronic health problems seen among many informal caregivers of persons with dementia. Much of this burden results from managing the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD), which have been established as a predictor of institutionalization for elderly patients with dementia.
It is recognized that for some patients with dementia, an LTC facility can provide the most appropriate care; however, many patients move into LTC unnecessarily. For individuals with dementia to remain in the community longer, caregivers require many types of formal and informal support services to alleviate the stress of caregiving. These include both respite care and psychosocial interventions. Psychosocial interventions encompass a broad range of interventions such as psychoeducational interventions, counseling, supportive therapy, and behavioural interventions.
Assuming that 50% of persons with dementia live in the community, a conservative estimate of the number of informal caregivers in Ontario is 82,500. Accounting for the fact that 29% of people with dementia live alone, this leaves a remaining estimate of 58,575 Ontarians providing care for a person with dementia with whom they reside.
Description of Interventions
The 2 main categories of caregiver-directed interventions examined in this review are respite care and psychosocial interventions. Respite care is defined as a break or relief for the caregiver. In most cases, respite is provided in the home, through day programs, or at institutions (usually 30 days or less). Depending on a caregiver’s needs, respite services will vary in delivery and duration. Respite care is carried out by a variety of individuals, including paid staff, volunteers, family, or friends.
Psychosocial interventions encompass a broad range of interventions and have been classified in various ways in the literature. This review will examine educational, behavioural, dementia-specific, supportive, and coping interventions. The analysis focuses on behavioural interventions, that is, those designed to help the caregiver manage BPSD. As described earlier, BPSD are one of the most challenging aspects of caring for a senior with dementia, causing an increase in caregiver burden. The analysis also examines multicomponent interventions, which include at least 2 of the above-mentioned interventions.
Methods of Evidence-Based Analysis
A comprehensive search strategy was used to identify systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that examined the effectiveness of interventions for caregivers of dementia patients.
Questions
Section 2.1
Are respite care services effective in supporting the well-being of unpaid caregivers of seniors with dementia in the community?
Do respite care services impact on rates of institutionalization of these seniors?
Section 2.2
Which psychosocial interventions are effective in supporting the well-being of unpaid caregivers of seniors with dementia in the community?
Which interventions reduce the risk for institutionalization of seniors with dementia?
Outcomes of Interest
any quantitative measure of caregiver psychological health, including caregiver burden, depression, quality of life, well-being, strain, mastery (taking control of one’s situation), reactivity to behaviour problems, etc.;
rate of institutionalization; and
cost-effectiveness.
Assessment of Quality of Evidence
The quality of the evidence was assessed as High, Moderate, Low, or Very low according to the GRADE methodology and GRADE Working Group. As per GRADE the following definitions apply:
Summary of Findings
Conclusions in Table 1 are drawn from Sections 2.1 and 2.2 of the report.
Summary of Conclusions on Caregiver-Directed Interventions
There is limited evidence from RCTs that respite care is effective in improving outcomes for those caring for seniors with dementia.
There is considerable qualitative evidence of the perceived benefits of respite care.
Respite care is known as one of the key formal support services for alleviating caregiver burden in those caring for dementia patients.
Respite care services need to be tailored to individual caregiver needs as there are vast differences among caregivers and patients with dementia (severity, type of dementia, amount of informal/formal support available, housing situation, etc.)
There is moderate- to high-quality evidence that individual behavioural interventions (≥ 6 sessions), directed towards the caregiver (or combined with the patient) are effective in improving psychological health in dementia caregivers.
There is moderate- to high-quality evidence that multicomponent interventions improve caregiver psychosocial health and may affect rates of institutionalization of dementia patients.
RCT indicates randomized controlled trial.
Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Objective
The section on patient-directed interventions for dementia is broken down into 4 subsections with the following questions:
3.1 Physical Exercise for Seniors with Dementia – Secondary Prevention
What is the effectiveness of physical exercise for the improvement or maintenance of basic activities of daily living (ADLs), such as eating, bathing, toileting, and functional ability, in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
3.2 Nonpharmacologic and Nonexercise Interventions to Improve Cognitive Functioning in Seniors With Dementia – Secondary Prevention
What is the effectiveness of nonpharmacologic interventions to improve cognitive functioning in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
3.3 Physical Exercise for Delaying the Onset of Dementia – Primary Prevention
Can exercise decrease the risk of subsequent cognitive decline/dementia?
3.4 Cognitive Interventions for Delaying the Onset of Dementia – Primary Prevention
Does cognitive training decrease the risk of cognitive impairment, deterioration in the performance of basic ADLs or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs),1 or incidence of dementia in seniors with good cognitive and physical functioning?
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Secondary Prevention2
Exercise
Physical deterioration is linked to dementia. This is thought to be due to reduced muscle mass leading to decreased activity levels and muscle atrophy, increasing the potential for unsafe mobility while performing basic ADLs such as eating, bathing, toileting, and functional ability.
Improved physical conditioning for seniors with dementia may extend their independent mobility and maintain performance of ADL.
Nonpharmacologic and Nonexercise Interventions
Cognitive impairments, including memory problems, are a defining feature of dementia. These impairments can lead to anxiety, depression, and withdrawal from activities. The impact of these cognitive problems on daily activities increases pressure on caregivers.
Cognitive interventions aim to improve these impairments in people with mild to moderate dementia.
Primary Prevention3
Exercise
Various vascular risk factors have been found to contribute to the development of dementia (e.g., hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, overweight).
Physical exercise is important in promoting overall and vascular health. However, it is unclear whether physical exercise can decrease the risk of cognitive decline/dementia.
Nonpharmacologic and Nonexercise Interventions
Having more years of education (i.e., a higher cognitive reserve) is associated with a lower prevalence of dementia in crossectional population-based studies and a lower incidence of dementia in cohorts followed longitudinally. However, it is unclear whether cognitive training can increase cognitive reserve or decrease the risk of cognitive impairment, prevent or delay deterioration in the performance of ADLs or IADLs or reduce the incidence of dementia.
Description of Interventions
Physical exercise and nonpharmacologic/nonexercise interventions (e.g., cognitive training) for the primary and secondary prevention of dementia are assessed in this review.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
A comprehensive search strategy was used to identify systematic reviews and RCTs that examined the effectiveness, safety and cost effectiveness of exercise and cognitive interventions for the primary and secondary prevention of dementia.
Questions
Section 3.1: What is the effectiveness of physical exercise for the improvement or maintenance of ADLs in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
Section 3.2: What is the effectiveness of nonpharmacologic/nonexercise interventions to improve cognitive functioning in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
Section 3.3: Can exercise decrease the risk of subsequent cognitive decline/dementia?
Section 3.4: Does cognitive training decrease the risk of cognitive impairment, prevent or delay deterioration in the performance of ADLs or IADLs, or reduce the incidence of dementia in seniors with good cognitive and physical functioning?
Assessment of Quality of Evidence
The quality of the evidence was assessed as High, Moderate, Low, or Very low according to the GRADE methodology. As per GRADE the following definitions apply:
Summary of Findings
Table 2 summarizes the conclusions from Sections 3.1 through 3.4.
Summary of Conclusions on Patient-Directed Interventions*
Previous systematic review indicated that “cognitive training” is not effective in patients with dementia.
A recent RCT suggests that CST (up to 7 weeks) is effective for improving cognitive function and quality of life in patients with dementia.
Regular leisure time physical activity in midlife is associated with a reduced risk of dementia in later life (mean follow-up 21 years).
Regular physical activity in seniors is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline (mean follow-up 2 years).
Regular physical activity in seniors is associated with a reduced risk of dementia (mean follow-up 6–7 years).
Evidence that cognitive training for specific functions (memory, reasoning, and speed of processing) produces improvements in these specific domains.
Limited inconclusive evidence that cognitive training can offset deterioration in the performance of self-reported IADL scores and performance assessments.
1° indicates primary; 2°, secondary; CST, cognitive stimulation therapy; IADL, instrumental activities of daily living; RCT, randomized controlled trial.
Benefit/Risk Analysis
As per the GRADE Working Group, the overall recommendations consider 4 main factors:
the trade-offs, taking into account the estimated size of the effect for the main outcome, the confidence limits around those estimates, and the relative value placed on the outcome;
the quality of the evidence;
translation of the evidence into practice in a specific setting, taking into consideration important factors that could be expected to modify the size of the expected effects such as proximity to a hospital or availability of necessary expertise; and
uncertainty about the baseline risk for the population of interest.
The GRADE Working Group also recommends that incremental costs of health care alternatives should be considered explicitly alongside the expected health benefits and harms. Recommendations rely on judgments about the value of the incremental health benefits in relation to the incremental costs. The last column in Table 3 reflects the overall trade-off between benefits and harms (adverse events) and incorporates any risk/uncertainty (cost-effectiveness).
Overall Summary Statement of the Benefit and Risk for Patient-Directed Interventions*
Economic Analysis
Budget Impact Analysis of Effective Interventions for Dementia
Caregiver-directed behavioural techniques and patient-directed exercise programs were found to be effective when assessing mild to moderate dementia outcomes in seniors living in the community. Therefore, an annual budget impact was calculated based on eligible seniors in the community with mild and moderate dementia and their respective caregivers who were willing to participate in interventional home sessions. Table 4 describes the annual budget impact for these interventions.
Annual Budget Impact (2008 Canadian Dollars)
Assumed 7% prevalence of dementia aged 65+ in Ontario.
Assumed 8 weekly sessions plus 4 monthly phone calls.
Assumed 12 weekly sessions plus biweekly sessions thereafter (total of 20).
Assumed 2 sessions per week for first 5 weeks. Assumed 90% of seniors in the community with dementia have mild to moderate disease. Assumed 4.5% of seniors 65+ are in long-term care, and the remainder are in the community. Assumed a rate of participation of 60% for both patients and caregivers and of 41% for patient-directed exercise. Assumed 100% compliance since intervention administered at the home. Cost for trained staff from Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care data source. Assumed cost of personal support worker to be equivalent to in-home support. Cost for recreation therapist from Alberta government Website.
Note: This budget impact analysis was calculated for the first year after introducing the interventions from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care perspective using prevalence data only. Prevalence estimates are for seniors in the community with mild to moderate dementia and their respective caregivers who are willing to participate in an interventional session administered at the home setting. Incidence and mortality rates were not factored in. Current expenditures in the province are unknown and therefore were not included in the analysis. Numbers may change based on population trends, rate of intervention uptake, trends in current programs in place in the province, and assumptions on costs. The number of patients was based on patients likely to access these interventions in Ontario based on assumptions stated below from the literature. An expert panel confirmed resource consumption.
PMCID: PMC3377513  PMID: 23074509
16.  Predictors of repeated sick leave in the workplace because of mental disorders 
Introduction
Mental disorders create a considerable burden to society. Previous studies have shown that productivity loss constitutes the largest proportion of the total societal burden. For depression and anxiety disorders, in particular, more than half of the associated productivity loss occurs in the workplace. Many previous studies have clarified the risk factors for the relapse/recurrence of mental disorders in health care settings. However, the risk factors for repeated sick leave among mental disorders prevalent in the workplace have not yet been adequately evaluated.
Objective
The objective of this study was to investigate which variables could predict repeated sick leave for workers with a history of sick leave because of mental disorders.
Methods
Data regarding 194 subjects employed at a manufacturing company were obtained. Mental disorders were defined as disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV). The duration between the return to work (RTW) and the repeated sick leave was regarded as a dependent variable. The subjects’ age at the RTW, sex, age at the time of employment, job tenure, diagnosis, number of previous sick leave days, duration of most recent sick leave, and employee rank were examined as explanatory variables. Univariate analyses using a log-rank test and a multivariate analysis using the Cox proportional hazard model were conducted.
Results
The results of the univariate analyses showed that the number of previous sick-leave episodes was a significant predictor of repeated sick leave. A multivariate analysis revealed that age at RTW and the number of previous sick-leave episodes were significant variables.
Conclusion
Age and the number of previous sick-leave episodes appeared to be predictors of repeated sick leave. Therefore, effective intervention to prevent repeated sick leave for those with high risk is quite crucial. Analyses including various work-related factors with subjects from multiple companies should be conducted in future studies.
doi:10.2147/NDT.S55490
PMCID: PMC3916086  PMID: 24511234
sickness absence; occupational mental health; relapse/recurrence
17.  Prognostic Factors of Long Term Disability Due to Mental Disorders: A Systematic Review 
Introduction In the past few decades, mental health problems have increasingly contributed to sickness absence and long-term disability. However, little is known about prognostic factors of return to work (RTW) and disability of persons already on sick leave due to mental health problems. Understanding these factors may help to develop effective prevention and intervention strategies to shorten the duration of disability and facilitate RTW. Method We reviewed systematically current scientific evidence about prognostic factors for mental health related long term disability, RTW and symptom recovery. Searching PubMed, PsycINFO, Embase, Cinahl and Business Source Premier, we selected articles with a publication date from January 1990 to March 2009, describing longitudinal cohort studies with a follow-up period of at least 1 year. Participants were persons on sick leave or receiving disability benefit at baseline. We assessed the methodological quality of included studies using an established criteria list. Consistent findings in at least two high quality studies were defined as strong evidence and positive findings in one high quality study were defined as limited evidence. Results Out of 796 studies, we included seven articles, all of high methodological quality describing a range of prognostic factors, according to the ICF-model categorized as health-related, personal and external factors. We found strong evidence that older age (>50 years) is associated with continuing disability and longer time to RTW. There is limited evidence for the association of other personal factors (gender, education, history of previous sickness absence, negative recovery expectation, socio-economic status), health related (stress-related and shoulder/back pain, depression/anxiety disorder) and external i.e., job-related factors (unemployment, quality and continuity of occupational care, supervisor behavior) with disability and RTW. We found limited evidence for the association of personal/external factors (education, sole breadwinner, partial/full RTW, changing work tasks) with symptom recovery. Conclusion This systematic review identifies a number of prognostic factors, some more or less consistent with findings in related literature (mental health factors, age, history of previous sickness absence, negative recovery expectation, socio-economic status, unemployment, quality and continuity of occupational care), while other prognostic factors (gender, level of education, sole breadwinner, supervisor support) conflict with existing evidence. There is still great need for research on modifiable prognostic factors of continuing disability and RTW among benefit claimants with mental health problems. Recommendations are made as to directions and methodological quality of further research, i.e., prognostic cohort studies.
doi:10.1007/s10926-010-9261-5
PMCID: PMC3098343  PMID: 21057974
Mental health; Occupational health; Long-term disability; Return to work; Literature review
18.  Return to work of workers without a permanent employment contract, sick-listed due to a common mental disorder: design of a randomised controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:594.
Background
Workers without a permanent employment contract represent a vulnerable group within the working population. Mental disorders are a major cause of sickness absence within this group. Common mental disorders are stress-related, depressive and anxiety disorders. To date, little attention has been paid to effective return to work interventions for this type of sick-listed workers. Therefore, a participatory supportive return to work program has been developed. It combines elements of a participatory return to work program, integrated care and direct placement in a competitive job.
The objective of this paper is to describe the design of a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of this program compared to care as usual.
Methods/Design
The cost-effectiveness of the participatory supportive return to work program will be examined in a randomised controlled trial with a follow-up of twelve months.
The program strongly involves the sick-listed worker in the identification of obstacles for return to work and possible solutions, resulting in a consensus based action plan. This plan will be used as a starting point for the search of suitable competitive employment with support of a rehabilitation agency. During this process the insurance physician of the sick-listed worker contacts other caregivers to promote integrated care.
Workers eligible to participate in this study have no permanent employment contract, have applied for a sickness benefit at the Dutch Social Security Agency and are sick-listed between two and fourteen weeks due to mental health problems.
The primary outcome measure is the duration until first sustainable return to work in a competitive job. Outcomes are measured at baseline and after three, six, nine and twelve months.
Discussion
If the participatory supportive return to work program proves to be cost-effective, the social security system, the sick-listed worker and society as a whole will benefit. A cost-effective return to work program will lead to a reduction of costs related to sickness absence. For the sick-listed worker a cost-effective program results in earlier sustainable return to work, which can be associated with both social and health benefits.
Trial registration
The trial registration number and date is NTR3563, August 7, 2012.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-594
PMCID: PMC4061521  PMID: 24919561
Return to work; Intervention; Sickness absence; Common mental disorders; Unemployed workers; Temporary agency workers; Fixed-term contract workers; Vulnerable workers; Occupational health care; Social security; Randomised controlled trial
19.  Cost-effectiveness of a workplace intervention for sick-listed employees with common mental disorders: design of a randomized controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:12.
Background
Considering the high costs of sick leave and the consequences of sick leave for employees, an early return-to-work of employees with mental disorders is very important. Therefore, a workplace intervention is developed based on a successful return-to-work intervention for employees with low back pain. The objective of this paper is to present the design of a randomized controlled trial evaluating the cost-effectiveness of the workplace intervention compared with usual care for sick-listed employees with common mental disorders.
Methods
The study is designed as a randomized controlled trial with a follow-up of one year. Employees eligible for this study are on sick leave for 2 to 8 weeks with common mental disorders. The workplace intervention will be compared with usual care. The workplace intervention is a stepwise approach that aims to reach consensus about a return-to-work plan by active participation and strong commitment of both the sick-listed employee and the supervisor. Outcomes will be assessed at baseline, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. The primary outcome of this study is lasting return-to-work, which will be acquired from continuous registration systems of the companies after the follow-up. Secondary outcomes are total number of days of sick leave during the follow-up, severity of common mental disorders, coping style, job content, and attitude, social influence, and self-efficacy determinants. Cost-effectiveness will be evaluated from the societal perspective. A process evaluation will also be conducted.
Discussion
Return-to-work is difficult to discuss in the workplace for sick-listed employees with mental disorders and their supervisors. Therefore, this intervention offers a unique opportunity for the sick-listed employee and the supervisor to discuss barriers for return-to-work. Results of this study will possibly contribute to improvement of disability management for sick-listed employees with common mental disorders. Results will become available in 2009.
Trial registration
ISRCTN92307123
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-12
PMCID: PMC2254399  PMID: 18194525
20.  Strategies for Increasing Recruitment to Randomised Controlled Trials: Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(11):e1000368.
Patrina Caldwell and colleagues performed a systematic review of randomized studies that compared methods of recruiting individual study participants into trials, and found that strategies that focus on increasing potential participants' awareness of the specific health problem, and that engaged them, appeared to increase recruitment.
Background
Recruitment of participants into randomised controlled trials (RCTs) is critical for successful trial conduct. Although there have been two previous systematic reviews on related topics, the results (which identified specific interventions) were inconclusive and not generalizable. The aim of our study was to evaluate the relative effectiveness of recruitment strategies for participation in RCTs.
Methods and Findings
A systematic review, using the PRISMA guideline for reporting of systematic reviews, that compared methods of recruiting individual study participants into an actual or mock RCT were included. We searched MEDLINE, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and reference lists of relevant studies. From over 16,000 titles or abstracts reviewed, 396 papers were retrieved and 37 studies were included, in which 18,812 of at least 59,354 people approached agreed to participate in a clinical RCT. Recruitment strategies were broadly divided into four groups: novel trial designs (eight studies), recruiter differences (eight studies), incentives (two studies), and provision of trial information (19 studies). Strategies that increased people's awareness of the health problem being studied (e.g., an interactive computer program [relative risk (RR) 1.48, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.00–2.18], attendance at an education session [RR 1.14, 95% CI 1.01–1.28], addition of a health questionnaire [RR 1.37, 95% CI 1.14–1.66]), or a video about the health condition (RR 1.75, 95% CI 1.11–2.74), and also monetary incentives (RR1.39, 95% CI 1.13–1.64 to RR 1.53, 95% CI 1.28–1.84) improved recruitment. Increasing patients' understanding of the trial process, recruiter differences, and various methods of randomisation and consent design did not show a difference in recruitment. Consent rates were also higher for nonblinded trial design, but differential loss to follow up between groups may jeopardise the study findings. The study's main limitation was the necessity of modifying the search strategy with subsequent search updates because of changes in MEDLINE definitions. The abstracts of previous versions of this systematic review were published in 2002 and 2007.
Conclusion
Recruitment strategies that focus on increasing potential participants' awareness of the health problem being studied, its potential impact on their health, and their engagement in the learning process appeared to increase recruitment to clinical studies. Further trials of recruitment strategies that target engaging participants to increase their awareness of the health problems being studied and the potential impact on their health may confirm this hypothesis.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Before any health care intervention—a treatment for a disease or a measure such as vaccination that is designed to prevent an illness—is adopted by the medical community, it undergoes exhaustive laboratory-based and clinical research. In the laboratory, scientists investigate the causes of diseases, identify potential new treatments or preventive methods, and test these interventions in animals. New interventions that look hopeful are then investigated in clinical trials—studies that test these interventions in people by following a strict trial protocol or action plan. Phase I trials test interventions in a few healthy volunteers or patients to evaluate their safety and to identify possible side effects. In phase II trials, a larger group of patients receives an intervention to evaluate its safety further and to get an initial idea of its effectiveness. In phase III trials, very large groups of patients (sometimes in excess of a thousand people) are randomly assigned to receive the new intervention or an established intervention or placebo (dummy intervention). These “randomized controlled trials” or “RCTs” provide the most reliable information about the effectiveness and safety of health care interventions.
Why Was This Study Done?
Patients who participate in clinical trials must fulfill the inclusion criteria laid down in the trial protocol and must be given information about the trial, its risks, and potential benefits before agreeing to participate (informed consent). Unfortunately, many RCTs struggle to enroll the number of patients specified in their trial protocol, which can reduce a trial's ability to measure the effect of a new intervention. Inadequate recruitment can also increase costs and, in the worst cases, prevent trial completion. Several strategies have been developed to improve recruitment but it is not clear which strategy works best. In this study, the researchers undertake a systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic) of “recruitment trials”—studies that have randomly divided potential RCT participants into groups, applied different strategies for recruitment to each group, and compared recruitment rates in the groups.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 37 randomized trials of recruitment strategies into real and mock RCTs (where no actual trial occurred). In all, 18,812 people agreed to participate in an RCT in these recruitment trials out of at least 59,354 people approached. Some of these trials investigated novel strategies for recruitment, such as changes in how patients are randomized. Others looked at the effect of recruiter differences (for example, increased contact between the health care professionals doing the recruiting and the trial investigators), the effect of offering monetary incentives to participants, and the effect of giving more information about the trial to potential participants. Recruitment strategies that improved people's awareness of the health problem being studied—provision of an interactive computer program or a video about the health condition, attendance at an educational session, or inclusion of a health questionnaire in the recruitment process—improved recruitment rates, as did monetary incentives. Increasing patients' understanding about the trial process itself, recruiter differences, and alterations in consent design and randomization generally had no effect on recruitment rates although consent rates were higher when patients knew the treatment to which they had been randomly allocated before consenting. However, differential losses among the patients in different treatment groups in such nonblinded trials may jeopardize study findings.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that trial recruitment strategies that focus on increasing the awareness of potential participants of the health problem being studied and its possible effects on their health, and that engage potential participants in the trial process are likely to increase recruitment to RCTs. The accuracy of these findings depends on whether the researchers identified all the published research on recruitment strategies and on whether other research on recruitment strategies has been undertaken and not published that could alter these findings. Furthermore, because about half of the recruitment trials identified by the researchers were undertaken in the US, the successful strategies identified here might not be generalizable to other countries. Nevertheless, these recruitment strategies should now be investigated further to ensure that the future evaluation of new health care interventions is not hampered by poor recruitment into RCTs.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000368.
The ClinicalTrials.gov Web site is a searchable register of federally and privately supported clinical trials in the US and around the world, providing information about all aspects of clinical trials
The US National Institutes of Health provides information about clinical trials
The UK National Health Service Choices Web site has information for patients about clinical trials and medical research
The UK Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Units also provides information for patients about clinical trials and links to information on clinical trials provided by other organizations
MedlinePlus has links to further resources on clinical trials (in English and Spanish)
The Australian Government's National Health and Medical Research Council has information about clinical trials
WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform aims to ensure that all trials are publicly accessible to those making health care decisions
The Star Child Health International Forum of Standards for Research is a resource center for pediatric clinical trial design, conduct, and reporting
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000368
PMCID: PMC2976724  PMID: 21085696
21.  Worksite interventions for preventing physical deterioration among employees in job-groups with high physical work demands: Background, design and conceptual model of FINALE 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:120.
Background
A mismatch between individual physical capacities and physical work demands enhance the risk for musculoskeletal disorders, poor work ability and sickness absence, termed physical deterioration. However, effective intervention strategies for preventing physical deterioration in job groups with high physical demands remains to be established. This paper describes the background, design and conceptual model of the FINALE programme, a framework for health promoting interventions at 4 Danish job groups (i.e. cleaners, health-care workers, construction workers and industrial workers) characterized by high physical work demands, musculoskeletal disorders, poor work ability and sickness absence.
Methods/Design
A novel approach of the FINALE programme is that the interventions, i.e. 3 randomized controlled trials (RCT) and 1 exploratory case-control study are tailored to the physical work demands, physical capacities and health profile of workers in each job-group. The RCT among cleaners, characterized by repetitive work tasks and musculoskeletal disorders, aims at making the cleaners less susceptible to musculoskeletal disorders by physical coordination training or cognitive behavioral theory based training (CBTr). Because health-care workers are reported to have high prevalence of overweight and heavy lifts, the aim of the RCT is long-term weight-loss by combined physical exercise training, CBTr and diet. Construction work, characterized by heavy lifting, pushing and pulling, the RCT aims at improving physical capacity and promoting musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health. At the industrial work-place characterized by repetitive work tasks, the intervention aims at reducing physical exertion and musculoskeletal disorders by combined physical exercise training, CBTr and participatory ergonomics. The overall aim of the FINALE programme is to improve the safety margin between individual resources (i.e. physical capacities, and cognitive and behavioral skills) and physical work demands, and thereby reduce the physical deterioration in a long term perspective by interventions tailored for each respective job-group.
Discussion
The FINALE programme has the potential to provide evidence-based knowledge of significant importance for public health policy and health promotion strategies for employees at high risk for physical deterioration.
Trial registrations
ISRCTN96241850, NCT01015716 and NCT01007669
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-120
PMCID: PMC2841104  PMID: 20214807
22.  Psychosocial Interventions for Perinatal Common Mental Disorders Delivered by Providers Who Are Not Mental Health Specialists in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(10):e1001541.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Kelly Clarke and colleagues examine the effect of psychosocial interventions delivered by non–mental health specialists for perinatal common mental disorders in low- and middle-income countries.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Perinatal common mental disorders (PCMDs) are a major cause of disability among women. Psychosocial interventions are one approach to reduce the burden of PCMDs. Working with care providers who are not mental health specialists, in the community or in antenatal health care facilities, can expand access to these interventions in low-resource settings. We assessed effects of such interventions compared to usual perinatal care, as well as effects of interventions based on intervention type, delivery method, and timing.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-regression. We searched databases including Embase and the Global Health Library (up to 7 July 2013) for randomized and non-randomized trials of psychosocial interventions delivered by non-specialist mental health care providers in community settings and antenatal health care facilities in low- and middle-income countries. We pooled outcomes from ten trials for 18,738 participants. Interventions led to an overall reduction in PCMDs compared to usual care when using continuous data for PCMD symptomatology (effect size [ES] −0.34; 95% CI −0.53, −0.16) and binary categorizations for presence or absence of PCMDs (odds ratio 0.59; 95% CI 0.26, 0.92). We found a significantly larger ES for psychological interventions (three studies; ES −0.46; 95% CI −0.58, −0.33) than for health promotion interventions (seven studies; ES −0.15; 95% CI −0.27, −0.02). Both individual (five studies; ES −0.18; 95% CI −0.34, −0.01) and group (three studies; ES −0.48; 95% CI −0.85, −0.11) interventions were effective compared to usual care, though delivery method was not associated with ES (meta-regression β coefficient −0.11; 95% CI −0.36, 0.14). Combined group and individual interventions (based on two studies) had no benefit compared to usual care, nor did interventions restricted to pregnancy (three studies). Intervention timing was not associated with ES (β 0.16; 95% CI −0.16, 0.49). The small number of trials and heterogeneity of interventions limit our findings.
Conclusions
Psychosocial interventions delivered by non-specialists are beneficial for PCMDs, especially psychological interventions. Research is needed on interventions in low-income countries, treatment versus preventive approaches, and cost-effectiveness.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Perinatal common mental health disorders are among the most common health problems in pregnancy and the postpartum period. In low- and middle-income countries, about 16% of women during pregnancy and about 20% of women in the postpartum period will suffer from a perinatal common mental health disorder. These disorders, including depression and anxiety, are a major cause of disability in women and have been linked to young children under their care being underweight and stunted.
Why Was This Study Done?
While research shows that both pharmacological (e.g., antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications) and non-pharmacological (e.g., psychotherapy, education, or health promotion) interventions are effective for preventing and treating perinatal common mental disorders, most of this research took place in high-income countries. These findings may not be applicable in low-resource settings, where there is limited access to mental health care providers such as psychiatrists and psychologists, and to medications. Thus, non-pharmacological interventions delivered by providers who are not mental health specialists may be important as ways to treat perinatal common mental health disorders in these types of settings. In this study the researchers systematically reviewed research estimating the effectiveness of non-pharmacological interventions for perinatal common mental disorders that were delivered by providers who were not mental health specialists (including health workers, lay persons, and doctors or midwives) in low- and middle-income countries. The researchers also used meta-analysis and meta-regression—statistical methods that are used to combine the results from multiple studies—to estimate the relative effects of these interventions on mental health symptoms.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched multiple databases using key search terms to identify randomized and non-randomized clinical trials. Using specific criteria, the researchers retrieved and assessed 37 full papers, of which 11 met the criteria for their systematic review. Seven of these studies were from upper middle-income countries (China, South Africa, Columbia, Mexico, Argentina, Cuba, and Brazil), and four trials were from the lower middle-income countries of Pakistan and India, but there were no trials from low-income countries. The researchers assessed the quality of the selected studies, and one study was excluded from meta-analysis because of poor quality.
Combining results from the ten remaining studies, the researchers found that compared to usual perinatal care (which in most cases included no mental health care), interventions delivered by a providers who were not mental health specialists were associated with an overall reduction in mental health symptoms and the likelihood of being diagnosed with a mental health disorder. The researchers then performed additional analyses to assess relative effects by intervention type, timing, and delivery mode. They observed that both psychological interventions, such as psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, and health promotion interventions that were less focused on mental health led to significant improvement in mental health symptoms, but psychological interventions were associated with greater effects than health promotion interventions. Interventions delivered both during pregnancy and postnatally were associated with significant benefits when compared to usual care; however, when interventions were delivered during pregnancy only, the benefits were not significantly greater than usual care. When investigating mode of delivery, the researchers observed that both group and individual interventions were associated with improvements in symptoms.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that non-pharmacological interventions delivered by providers who are not mental health specialists could be useful for reducing symptoms of perinatal mental health disorders in middle-income countries. However, these findings should be interpreted with caution given that they are based on a small number of studies with a large amount of variation in the study designs, settings, timing, personnel, duration, and whether the intervention was delivered to a group, individually, or both. Furthermore, when the researchers excluded studies of the lowest quality, the observed benefits of these interventions were smaller, indicating that this analysis may overestimate the true effect of interventions. Nevertheless, the findings do provide support for the use of non-pharmacological interventions, delivered by non-specialists, for perinatal mental health disorders. Further studies should be undertaken in low-income countries.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001541
The World Health Organization provides information about perinatal mental health disorders
The UK Royal College of Psychiatrists has information for professionals and patients about perinatal mental health disorders
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001541
PMCID: PMC3812075  PMID: 24204215
23.  Empowering employees with chronic diseases; development of an intervention aimed at job retention and design of a randomised controlled trial 
Background
Persons with a chronic disease are less often employed than healthy persons. If employed, many of them experience problems at work. Therefore, we developed a training programme aimed at job retention. The objective of this paper is to describe this intervention and to present the design of a study to evaluate its effectiveness.
Development and description of intervention
A systematic review, a needs assessment and discussions with Dutch experts led to a pilot group training, tested in a pilot study. The evaluation resulted in the development of a seven-session group training combined with three individual counselling sessions. The training is based on an empowerment perspective that aims to help individuals enhance knowledge, skills and self-awareness. These advances are deemed necessary for problem solving in three stages: exploration and clarification of work related problems, communication at the workplace, and development and implementation of solutions. Seven themes are discussed and practised in the group sessions: 1) Consequences of a chronic disease in the workplace, 2) Insight into feelings and thoughts about having a chronic disease, 3) Communication in daily work situations, 4) Facilities for disabled employees and work disability legislation, 5) How to stand up for oneself, 6) A plan to solve problems, 7) Follow-up.
Methods
Participants are recruited via occupational health services, patient organisations, employers, and a yearly national conference on chronic diseases. They are eligible when they have a chronic physical medical condition, have a paid job, and experience problems at work. Workers on long-term, 100% sick leave that is expected to continue during the training are excluded. After filling in the baseline questionnaire, the participants are randomised to either the control or the intervention group. The control group will receive no care or care as usual. Post-test mail questionnaires will be sent after 4, 8, 12 and 24 months. Primary outcome measures are job retention, self efficacy, fatigue and work pleasure. Secondary outcome measures are work-related problems, sick leave, quality of life, acquired work accommodations, burnout, and several quality of work measures. A process evaluation will be conducted and satisfaction with the training, its components and the training methods will be assessed.
Discussion
Many employees with a chronic condition experience problems in performing tasks and in managing social relations at work. We developed an innovative intervention that addresses practical as well as psychosocial problems. The results of the study will be relevant for employees, employers, occupational health professionals and human resource professionals (HRM).
Trial registration
ISRCTN77240155
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-224
PMCID: PMC2614990  PMID: 18983652
24.  Recurrence of Medically Certified Sickness Absence According to Diagnosis: A Sickness Absence Register Study 
Introduction Sickness absence is a major public health problem. Research on sickness absence focuses on interventions aimed at expediting return to work. However, we need to know more about sustaining employees at work after return to work. Therefore, this study investigated the recurrence of sickness absence according to diagnosis. Methods We analyzed the registered sickness absence data of 137,172 employees working for the Dutch Post and Telecom. Episodes of sickness absence were medically certified, according to the ICD-10 classification of diseases, by an occupational physician. The incidence density (ID) and recurrence density (RD) of medically certified absences were calculated per 1,000 person-years in each ICD-10 category. Results Sickness absence due to musculoskeletal disorders had the highest recurrence (RD = 118.7 per 1,000 person-years), followed by recurrence of sickness absence due to mental disorders (RD = 80.4 per 1,000 person-years). The median time to recurrent sickness absence due to musculoskeletal disorders was 409 days after the index episode. Recurrences of sickness absence due to musculoskeletal disorders accounted for 37% of the total number of recurrent sickness absence days. For recurrences of sickness absence due to mental disorders this was 328 days and 21%, respectively. Unskilled employees with a short duration (<5 years) of employment had a higher risk of recurrent sickness absence. Conclusions Interventions to expedite return to work of employees sick-listed due to musculoskeletal or mental disorders should also aim at reducing recurrence of sickness absence in order to sustain employees at work.
doi:10.1007/s10926-009-9226-8
PMCID: PMC2832874  PMID: 20052523
Absenteeism; Sickness absence; Epidemiology; Recurrence of sickness absence
25.  A Participatory Return-to-Work Intervention for Temporary Agency Workers and Unemployed Workers Sick-Listed Due to Musculoskeletal Disorders: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial 
Introduction Within the labour force workers without an employment contract represent a vulnerable group. In most cases, when sick-listed, these workers have no workplace/employer to return to. Therefore, the aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness on return-to-work of a participatory return-to-work program compared to usual care for unemployed workers and temporary agency workers, sick-listed due to musculoskeletal disorders. Methods The workers, sick-listed for 2–8 weeks due to musculoskeletal disorders, were randomly allocated to the participatory return-to-work program (n = 79) or to usual care (n = 84). The new program is a stepwise procedure aimed at making a consensus-based return-to-work plan, with the possibility of a temporary (therapeutic) workplace. Outcomes were measured at baseline, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. The primary outcome measure was time to sustainable first return-to-work. Secondary outcome measures were duration of sickness benefit, functional status, pain intensity, and perceived health. Results The median duration until sustainable first return-to-work was 161 days in the intervention group, compared to 299 days in the usual care group. The new return-to-work program resulted in a non-significant delay in RTW during the first 90 days, followed by a significant advantage in RTW rate after 90 days (hazard ratio of 2.24 [95% confidence interval 1.28–3.94] P = 0.005). No significant differences were found for the measured secondary outcomes. Conclusions The newly developed participatory return-to-work program seems to be a promising intervention to facilitate work resumption and reduce work disability among temporary agency workers and unemployed workers, sick-listed due to musculoskeletal disorders.
doi:10.1007/s10926-011-9291-7
PMCID: PMC3173632  PMID: 21336673
Work disability; Return-to-work interventions; Musculoskeletal disorders; Vulnerable worker populations; Worker without employment contract

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