Original Research

Formulating a return-to-work decision for employees with major depressive disorders: occupational therapists’ experiences

Enos Ramano, Tania Buys, Marianne de Beer
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 8, No 2 | a954 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v8i2.954 | © 2016 Enos Ramano, Tania Buys, Marianne de Beer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 July 2015 | Published: 20 April 2016

About the author(s)

Enos Ramano, Occupational Therapist and Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Health Care Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Tania Buys, Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Health Care Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Marianne de Beer, Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Health Care Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is worldwide one of the most concerning health problems as it is associated with reduced work productivity and permanent disability. Occupational therapists are often called upon to make a return-to-work decision on employees with MDD in order to facilitate continued employment. Sustaining employment is in alignment with achieving the Millennium Development Goal 1: Eradicating extreme poverty, as it is known that people suffering from mental health disorders are frequently denied employment opportunities leading to reduced financial resources and therefore possible poverty.

Aim: This study described occupational therapists’ experiences of formulating a return-to workdecision on employees with MDD. It formed part of a larger study.

Setting: Occupational therapists working in vocational rehabilitation or mental health in South Africa with a postgraduate qualification in vocational rehabilitation or mental health participated in the study.

Method: A qualitative research design was used. Two separate focus groups explored 11 occupational therapists’ experiences of formulating a return-to-work decision on employees with MDD. Ethics clearance number: S34/2007.

Results: Seven themes emerged, which were, (1) the biographical profile of the employee, (2) point of view of employer, (3) point of view of employee, (4) point of view of occupational therapist, (5) declaring the employee as temporary incapacitated, (6) declaring the employee as permanently incapacitated and (7) employee’s level of motivation.

Conclusion: Occupational therapists ought to have sound knowledge, skill, experience and the ability to collaborate with employees and employers in formulating a return-to-work decision.


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