Understanding depression as a workplace issue: Clarifying employers’ attitudes to manage employees with depression

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BACKGROUND: Sickness absence due to depression has indirect and direct costs for employers. Whilst employers play a key role in establishing supportive work environments and providing work adjustments, there is a lack of knowledge on employers’ attitudes to support employees with depression. OBJECTIVE: To investigate employers’ attitudes to manage employees’ depression, focusing on the employers’ opportunities and challenges to support employees with depression.
METHODS: Individual interviews were conducted with five employers. Interview transcripts were analysed using qualitative content analysis.
RESULTS: Four categories emerged from the interviews: Attitude to and understanding of depression affect supportive practices; Dilemma between supporting employees with depression and accommodating workplace needs; The employer-employee relationship influences supportive practices; and Work accommodations target the employee’s ability to work.
CONCLUSION: Employers may need a wider understanding of depression and the importance of the work environment influencing work disability due to depression. Studies should investigate how knowledge of work disability due to depression can be transferred to workplaces.
Conflicting agendas of the vocational rehabilitation stakeholders poison opportunities to support, and initiatives may aim to promote employers’ understanding of the benefits of collaborating with other stakeholders. The involvement of decision-makers to provide initiatives that support employers in managing employees with depression to promote their work participation is recommended.
TidsskriftWork: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation
Sider (fra-til)857-868
Antal sider12
StatusUdgivet - apr. 2020


  • Mental Disorders, Workplace, Vocational rehabilitation, Return to work, Qualitative research

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