Effects of rehabilitation programmes for patients on long-term sick leave for burnout: a 3-year follow-up of the REST study

J Rehabil Med. 2012 Jul;44(8):684-90. doi: 10.2340/16501977-1003.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breathing Exercises*
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Burnout, Professional / rehabilitation*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recovery of Function
  • Rest
  • Sick Leave*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome