Interventions to enhance work participation of workers with a chronic disease: a systematic review of reviews

Occup Environ Med. 2015 Nov;72(11):820-6. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2015-103062. Epub 2015 Sep 25.


The aim of this systematic review was to provide an overview of the available effective interventions that enhance work participation of people with a chronic disease, irrespective of their diagnosis. A search was conducted in PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL and the Cochrane Library, searching for systematic reviews published between 2004 and February 2015. Systematic reviews were eligible for inclusion if they described an intervention aimed at enhancing work participation and included participants of working age (18-65 years) with a chronic disease. Reviews had to include populations having different chronic diseases. The quality of the included reviews was evaluated using the quality instrument AMSTAR. Results of reviews of medium and high quality were described in this review. The search resulted in 9 reviews, 5 of which were of medium quality. No high quality reviews were retrieved. 1 review reported inconclusive evidence for policy-based return to work initiatives. The 4 other reviews described interventions focused on changes at work, such as changes in work organisation, working conditions and work environment. Of these 4 reviews, 3 reported beneficial effects of the intervention on work participation. Interventions examined in populations having different chronic diseases were mainly focused on changes at work. The majority of the included interventions were reported to be effective in enhancing work participation of people with a chronic disease, indicating that interventions directed at work could be considered for a generic approach in order to enhance work participation in various chronic diseases.

Keywords: Chronic disease; Intervention; Vocational rehabilitation; Work participation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease*
  • Employment*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Health*
  • Work*
  • Workplace