Objectives To evaluate whether adjuvant occupational therapy (OT) can improve the effectiveness of treatment-as-usual (TAU) in sick-listed employees with major depression.
Methods In total, 117 employees sick-listed for a median duration of 4.8 months (IQR=2.6 to 10.1 months) because of major depression were randomised to TAU (n=39) or adjuvant OT (TAU+OT; n=78). OT (18 sessions) focussed on a fast return to work (RTW) and improving work-related coping and self-efficacy. The primary outcome was work participation (hours of absenteeism+duration until partial/full RTW). Secondary outcomes were depression, at-work functioning, and health-related functioning. Intermediate outcomes were work-related, coping and self-efficacy. Blinded assessments occurred at baseline and 6, 12 and 18 months follow-up.
Results The groups did not significantly differ in their overall work participation (adjusted group difference=−1.9, 95% CI −19.9 to +16.2). However, those in TAU+OT did show greater improvement in depression symptoms (−2.8, −5.5 to −0.2), an increased probability of long-term symptom remission (+18%, +7% to +30%), and increased probability of long-term RTW in good health (GH) (+24%, 12% to 36%). There were no significant group differences in the remaining secondary/intermediate outcomes.
Conclusions In a highly impaired population, we could not demonstrate significant benefit of adjuvant OT for improving overall work participation. However, adjuvant OT did increase long-term depression recovery and long-term RTW in GH (ie, full RTW while being remitted, and with better work and role functioning).
Trial Registration Dutch Trial Register NTR2057.
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