Inpatient Multimodal Occupational Rehabilitation Reduces Sickness Absence Among Individuals With Musculoskeletal and Common Mental Health Disorders: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Scand J Work Environ Health. 2020 Jul 1;46(4):364-372. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.3882. Epub 2020 Jan 5.


Objectives This study aimed to investigate whether inpatient multimodal occupational rehabilitation (I-MORE) reduces sickness absence (SA) more than outpatient acceptance and commitment therapy (O-ACT) among individuals with musculoskeletal and mental health disorders. Methods Individuals on sick leave (2-12 months) due to musculoskeletal or common mental health disorders were randomized to I-MORE (N=86) or O-ACT (N=80). I-MORE lasted 3.5 weeks in which participants stayed at the rehabilitation center. I-MORE included ACT, physical exercise, work-related problem solving and creating a return to work plan. O-ACT consisted mainly of 6 weekly 2.5 hour group-ACT sessions. We assessed the primary outcome cumulative SA within 6 and 12 months with national registry-data. Secondary outcomes were time to sustainable return to work and self-reported health outcomes assessed by questionnaires. Results SA did not differ between the interventions at 6 months, but after one year individuals in I-MORE had 32 fewer SA days compared to O-ACT (median 85 [interquartile range 33-149] versus 117 [interquartile range 59-189)], P=0.034). The hazard ratio for sustainable return to work was 1.9 (95% confidence interval 1.2-3.0) in favor of I-MORE. There were no clinically meaningful between-group differences in self-reported health outcomes. Conclusions Among individuals on long-term SA due to musculoskeletal and common mental health disorders, a 3.5-week I-MORE program reduced SA compared with 6 weekly sessions of O-ACT in the year after inclusion. Studies with longer follow-up and economic evaluations should be performed.