Objective: To investigate which factors predict return to work (RTW) after 3 and 6 months in employees sick-listed due to minor mental disorders.
Methods: Seventy GPs recruited 194 subjects at the start of sick leave due to minor mental disorders. At baseline (T0), 3 and 6 months later (T1 and T2, respectively), subjects received a questionnaire and were interviewed by telephone. Using multivariate logistic regression analyses, we developed three prediction models to predict RTW at T1 and T2.
Results: The RTW rates were 38% after 3 months (T1) and 61% after 6 months (T2). The main negative predictors of RTW at T1 were: (a) a duration of the problems of more than 3 months before sick leave; and (b) somatisation. The main negative predictors of RTW at T2 were: (a) a duration of the problems of more than 3 months before sick leave; (b) more than 3 weeks of sick leave before inclusion in the study; and (c) anxiety. The main negative predictors of RTW at T2 for those who had not resumed work at T1 were: (a) more than 3 weeks of sick leave before inclusion in the study; and (b) depression at T1. The predictive power of the models was moderate with AUC-values between 0.695 and 0.763.
Conclusions: The main predictors of RTW were associated with the severity of the problems. A long duration of the problems before the occurrence of sick leave and a long duration of sick leave before seeking help predict a relatively small probability to RTW within 3-6 months. High baseline somatisation and anxiety, and high depression after 3 months make the prospect even worse. Since these predictors are readily assessable with just a few questions and a symptom questionnaire, this opens the opportunity to select high-risk employees for a