Article Text

Download PDFPDF

681 Return-to-work interventions for employees with burnout: a systematic review
  1. C Lambreghts1,2,
  2. S Vandenbroeck1,2,
  3. L Godderis1,2
  1. 1Centre for Environment and Health, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  2. 2Groep IDEWE, External Service for Prevention and Protection at Work, Leuven, Belgium


Introduction Burnout is a work-related mental health problem and may cause long-term sickness absence. Return-to-work interventions for burned out employees on sick leave aim to prevent long-term work disability. This systematic review adresses 2 questions:

  • Which return–to–work interventions for burned out employees on sick leave have been studied?

  • What is the effect of these interventions on return to work?

Methods We performed a systematic literature review and searched Medline, CINAHL, EMBASE and Web of Science from Jan 1, 2000 to March 16, 2016. We searched for articles of return-to-work interventions for burned out employees on sick leave. We excluded studies of self-employed people and studies of employees suffering from mental health problems other than burnout. We conducted the review in line with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines. Outcomes were return to work and overall burnout symptoms.

Results We identified 1578 articles after removal of all duplicates. Ten articles met inclusion criteria of which 5 were person-directed interventions, 2 were organisation-directed and 3 were a combination of both intervention types. None of the person-directed interventions caused a significant improvement in return to work. In contrast, the 2 organisation-directed and 2 of the 3 combined interventions did significantly improve return to work. All interventions had a positive effect on overall burnout symptoms.

Discussion Although all interventions improved burnout symptoms, only the interventions that were (partly) organisation-directed had a positive effect on return to work. This finding is important in the development of return-to-work interventions for employees with burnout.

  • return to work
  • burnout
  • systematic review

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.