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Eva Ørnbøl

A COGNITIVE-BEHAVIOURAL GROUP TREATMENT IMPROVED WORK ABILITY IN PATIENTS WITH SEVERE FUNCTIONAL SOMATIC SYNDROMES

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Objective: Functional somatic syndromes (FSS) such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel and chronic fatigue syndrome often disrupt employment and may lead to long-term dependence on social benefits and permanently reduced work ability. Cognitive-behavioural treatments (CBT) relief symptoms and improve functioning in FSS, but their effect on work ability is unclear. The aim of this study was to estimate the long-term effect of group CBT on work ability in patients with severe FSS.

Methods: 120 Patients from a recently published randomised controlled trial comparing group CBT with enhanced usual care (EUC) were matched with 518 individuals from the general population. Complete data covering all public transfer payments were obtained from the Danish administrative DREAM database. We analysed the number of weeks per year without any transfer payments (i.e. weeks with complete self-support) from 10 years before to 3 years after treatment by means of random effects modelling allowing individual levels and slopes.

Results: Compared with the general population, FSS patients showed a continuous decline in self-support, leading to markedly reduced work ability at trial entry. In the following years, EUC patients showed further decline, while the CBT group showed a trend for improvement (difference in mean change 4 (95 % CI 2-6) weeks per year), leading to an ultimate difference of 10 (95 % CI 3-18) weeks in the third year after treatment.

Conclusion: A group CBT programme prevented further deterioration of work ability in severely impaired FSS patients. This may be associated with large savings in health-related and labour-market-related benefits.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Medicine
Volume21
IssueSuppl 1
Pages (from-to)S54
Number of pages1
ISSN1070-5503
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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