Open Access Study protocol

The Mental Vitality @ Work study: design of a randomized controlled trial on the effect of a workers' health surveillance mental module for nurses and allied health professionals

Fania R Gärtner1*, Sarah M Ketelaar1, Odile Smeets2, Linda Bolier2, Eva Fischer2, Frank JH van Dijk1, Karen Nieuwenhuijsen1 and Judith K Sluiter1

Author Affiliations

1 Coronel Institute of Occupational Health, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

2 Innovation Center of Mental Health & Technology (I.COM), Trimbos Institute, Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction, Utrecht, the Netherlands

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2011, 11:290  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-290

Published: 10 May 2011

Abstract

Background

Employees in health care service are at high risk for developing mental health complaints. The effects of mental health complaints on work can have serious consequences for the quality of care provided by these workers. To help health service workers remain healthy and productive, preventive actions are necessary. A Workers' Health Surveillance (WHS) mental module may be an effective strategy to monitor and promote good (mental) health and work performance. The objective of this paper is to describe the design of a three arm cluster randomized controlled trial on the effectiveness of a WHS mental module for nurses and allied health professionals. Two strategies for this WHS mental module will be compared along with data from a control group. Additionally, the cost effectiveness of the approaches will be evaluated from a societal perspective.

Methods

The study is designed as a cluster randomized controlled trial consisting of three arms (two intervention groups, 1 control group) with randomization at ward level. The study population consists of 86 departments in one Dutch academic medical center with a total of 1731 nurses and allied health professionals. At baseline, after three months and after six months of follow-up, outcomes will be assessed by online questionnaires. In both intervention arms, participants will complete a screening to detect problems in mental health and work functioning and receive feedback on their screening results. In cases of impairments in mental health or work functioning in the first intervention arm, a consultation with an occupational physician will be offered. The second intervention arm offers a choice of self-help e-mental health interventions, which will be tailored based on each individual's mental health state and work functioning. The primary outcomes will be help-seeking behavior and work functioning. Secondary outcomes will be mental health and wellbeing. Furthermore, cost-effectiveness in both intervention arms will be assessed, and a process evaluation will be performed.

Discussion

When it is proven effective compared to a control group, a WHS mental module for nurses and allied health professionals could be implemented and used on a regular basis by occupational health services in hospitals to improve employees' mental health and work functioning.

Trial Registration

NTR2786