Due to low employment rates associated to chronic conditions in Europe, it is essential to foster effective integration and re-integration into work strategies. The objective of this systematic review is to summarize the evidence on the effectiveness of strategies for integration and re-integration to work for persons with chronic diseases or with musculoskeletal disorders, implemented in Europe in the past five years. A systematic search was conducted in MedLine, PsycINFO, CDR-HTA, CDR-DARE and Cochrane Systematic Reviews. Overall, 32 relevant publications were identified. Of these, 21 were considered eligible after a methodological assessment and included. Positive changes in employment status, return to work and sick leave outcomes were achieved with graded sickness-absence certificates, part-time sick leave, early ergonomic interventions for back pain, disability evaluation followed by information and advice, and with multidisciplinary, coordinated and tailored return to work interventions. Additionally, a positive association between the co-existence of active labour market policies to promote employment and passive support measures (e.g., pensions or benefits) and the probability of finding a job was observed. Research on the evaluation of the effectiveness of strategies targeting integration and re-integration into work for persons with chronic health conditions needs, however, to be improved and strengthened.
Keywords: Europe; chronic disease; disability; effectiveness; employment; musculoskeletal diseases; return to work; review; sick leave.