Recovery from work-related stress: a randomized controlled trial of a stress management intervention in a clinical sample

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Purpose: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of interventions aimed at reducing work-related stress indicate that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is more effective than other interventions. However, definitions of study populations are often unclear and there is a lack of interventions targeting both the individual and the workplace. The aim of this study was to determine whether a stress management intervention combining individual CBT and a workplace focus is superior to no treatment in the reduction of perceived stress and stress symptoms and time to lasting return to work (RTW) in a clinical sample. Methods: Patients with work-related stress reactions or adjustment disorders were randomly assigned to an intervention group (n = 57, 84.2% female) or a control group (n = 80, 83.8% female). Subjects were followed via questionnaires and register data. The intervention contained individual CBT and the offer of a workplace meeting. We examined intervention effects by analysing group differences in score changes on the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10) and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-30). We also tested if intervention led to faster lasting RTW. Results: Mean baseline values of PSS were 24.79 in the intervention group and 23.26 in the control group while the corresponding values for GHQ were 21.3 and 20.27, respectively. There was a significant effect of time. 10 months after baseline, both groups reported less perceived stress and improved mental health. 4 months after baseline, we found significant treatment effects for both perceived stress and mental health. The difference in mean change in PSS after 4 months was − 3.09 (− 5.47, − 0.72), while for GHQ it was − 3.91 (− 7.15, − 0.68). There were no group differences in RTW. Conclusions: The intervention led to faster reductions in perceived stress and stress symptoms amongst patients with work-related stress reactions and adjustment disorders. 6 months after the intervention ended there were no longer differences between the groups.

TidsskriftInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Sider (fra-til)675-687
Antal sider13
StatusUdgivet - 1 aug. 2018

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