Return to work of workers without a permanent employment contract, sick-listed due to a common mental disorder: design of a randomised controlled trial
1 Department of Public and Occupational Health, EMGO + Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Centre, P.O. Box 7057, Amsterdam 1007 MB, The Netherlands
2 Research Centre for Insurance Medicine AMC-UMCG-UWV-VUmc, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
BMC Public Health 2014, 14:594 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-594Published: 12 June 2014
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.
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.
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.
The trial registration number and date is NTR3563, August 7, 2012.