Interventions to improve return to work in depressed people.Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020 10 13; 10:CD006237.CD
Work disability such as sickness absence is common in people with depression.
To evaluate the effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing work disability in employees with depressive disorders.
We searched CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library), MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, and PsycINFO until April 4th 2020.
We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and cluster-RCTs of work-directed and clinical interventions for depressed people that included days of sickness absence or being off work as an outcome. We also analysed the effects on depression and work functioning.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS
Two review authors independently extracted the data and rated the certainty of the evidence using GRADE. We used standardised mean differences (SMDs) or risk ratios (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) to pool study results in studies we judged to be sufficiently similar. MAIN RESULTS: In this update, we added 23 new studies. In total, we included 45 studies with 88 study arms, involving 12,109 participants with either a major depressive disorder or a high level of depressive symptoms. Risk of bias The most common types of bias risk were detection bias (27 studies) and attrition bias (22 studies), both for the outcome of sickness absence. Work-directed interventions Work-directed interventions combined with clinical interventions A combination of a work-directed intervention and a clinical intervention probably reduces days of sickness absence within the first year of follow-up (SMD -0.25, 95% CI -0.38 to -0.12; 9 studies; moderate-certainty evidence). This translates back to 0.5 fewer (95% CI -0.7 to -0.2) sick leave days in the past two weeks or 25 fewer days during one year (95% CI -37.5 to -11.8). The intervention does not lead to fewer persons being off work beyond one year follow-up (RR 0.96, 95% CI 0.85 to 1.09; 2 studies, high-certainty evidence). The intervention may reduce depressive symptoms (SMD -0.25, 95% CI -0.49 to -0.01; 8 studies, low-certainty evidence) and probably has a small effect on work functioning (SMD -0.19, 95% CI -0.42 to 0.06; 5 studies, moderate-certainty evidence) within the first year of follow-up. Stand alone work-directed interventions A specific work-directed intervention alone may increase the number of sickness absence days compared with work-directed care as usual (SMD 0.39, 95% CI 0.04 to 0.74; 2 studies, low-certainty evidence) but probably does not lead to more people being off work within the first year of follow-up (RR 0.93, 95% CI 0.77 to 1.11; 1 study, moderate-certainty evidence) or beyond (RR 1.00, 95% CI 0.82 to 1.22; 2 studies, moderate-certainty evidence). There is probably no effect on depressive symptoms (SMD -0.10, 95% -0.30 CI to 0.10; 4 studies, moderate-certainty evidence) within the first year of follow-up and there may be no effect on depressive symptoms beyond that time (SMD 0.18, 95% CI -0.13 to 0.49; 1 study, low-certainty evidence). The intervention may also not lead to better work functioning (SMD -0.32, 95% CI -0.90 to 0.26; 1 study, low-certainty evidence) within the first year of follow-up. Psychological interventions A psychological intervention, either face-to-face, or an E-mental health intervention, with or without professional guidance, may reduce the number of sickness absence days, compared with care as usual (SMD -0.15, 95% CI -0.28 to -0.03; 9 studies, low-certainty evidence). It may also reduce depressive symptoms (SMD -0.30, 95% CI -0.45 to -0.15, 8 studies, low-certainty evidence). We are uncertain whether these psychological interventions improve work ability (SMD -0.15 95% CI -0.46 to 0.57; 1 study; very low-certainty evidence). Psychological intervention combined with antidepressant medication Two studies compared the effect of a psychological intervention combined with antidepressants to antidepressants alone. One study combined psychodynamic therapy with tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) medication and another combined telephone-administered cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). We are uncertain if this intervention reduces the number of sickness absence days (SMD -0.38, 95% CI -0.99 to 0.24; 2 studies, very low-certainty evidence) but found that there may be no effect on depressive symptoms (SMD -0.19, 95% CI -0.50 to 0.12; 2 studies, low-certainty evidence). Antidepressant medication only Three studies compared the effectiveness of SSRI to selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) medication on reducing sickness absence and yielded highly inconsistent results. Improved care Overall, interventions to improve care did not lead to fewer days of sickness absence, compared to care as usual (SMD -0.05, 95% CI -0.16 to 0.06; 7 studies, moderate-certainty evidence). However, in studies with a low risk of bias, the intervention probably leads to fewer days of sickness absence in the first year of follow-up (SMD -0.20, 95% CI -0.35 to -0.05; 2 studies; moderate-certainty evidence). Improved care probably leads to fewer depressive symptoms (SMD -0.21, 95% CI -0.35 to -0.07; 7 studies, moderate-certainty evidence) but may possibly lead to a decrease in work-functioning (SMD 0.5, 95% CI 0.34 to 0.66; 1 study; moderate-certainty evidence). Exercise Supervised strength exercise may reduce sickness absence, compared to relaxation (SMD -1.11; 95% CI -1.68 to -0.54; one study, low-certainty evidence). However, aerobic exercise probably is not more effective than relaxation or stretching (SMD -0.06; 95% CI -0.36 to 0.24; 2 studies, moderate-certainty evidence). Both studies found no differences between the two conditions in depressive symptoms.