Objective: To evaluate the long-term effects of two different rehabilitation programmes for patients on long-term sick leave for burnout.
Design: Three-year follow-up of a randomized controlled trial with two 1-year group programmes: (A) cognitively oriented behavioural rehabilitation in combination with Qigong; and (B) Qigong alone.
Patients: A total of 107 patients with burnout (78 women and 29 men), who all completed the 1-year rehabilitation programme per-protocol, were asked to participate in the follow-up.
Methods: At the 3-year follow-up, data on psychological measures, sick leave and use of medication were compared between the programmes.
Results: Patients in programme A reported being significantly more recovered from their burnout (p = 0.02), reported lower levels of burnout (p = 0.035), used more cognitive tools learned from the programme (p < 0.001), and had reduced their use of medication for depression (p = 0.002). No significant differences were found between the groups in terms of sick leave rates; both groups had improved.
Conclusion: A multimodal rehabilitation including cognitively oriented behavioural rehabilitation and Qigong showed positive effects 3 years after the end of intervention. The results indicate that, for many burnout patients on sick-leave, it takes time to implement cognitive tools and to establish new behaviours.