Predicting the effectiveness of work-focused CBT for common mental disorders: The influence of baseline self-efficacy, depression and anxiety

V. Brenninkmeijer*, S.E. Lagerveld, R.W.B. Blonk, W.B. Schaufeli, L.D. Wijngaards‑de Meij

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
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This study examined who benefits most from a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)-based intervention that aims to enhance return to work (RTW) among employees who are absent due to common mental disorders (CMDs) (e.g., depression, anxiety, or adjustment disorder). We researched the influence of baseline work-related self-efficacy and mental health (depressive complaints and anxiety) on treatment outcomes of two psychotherapeutic interventions. Methods
Using a quasi-experimental design, 12-month follow-up data of 168 employees were collected. Participants either received work-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (W-CBT) that integrated work aspects early into the treatment (n = 89) or regular cognitive behavioural therapy (R-CBT) without a focus on work (n = 79). Results
Compared with R-CBT, W-CBT resulted in a faster partial RTW, irrespective of baseline self-efficacy. Among individuals with high self-efficacy, W-CBT also resulted in faster full RTW. The effectiveness of W-CBT on RTW did not depend on baseline depressive complaints or anxiety. The decline of mental health complaints did not differ between the two interventions, nor depended on baseline self-efficacy or mental health.
Considering the benefits of W-CBT for partial RTW, we recommend this intervention as a preferred method for employees with CMDs, irrespective of baseline self-efficacy, depression and anxiety. For individuals with high baseline self-efficacy, this intervention also results in higher full RTW. For those with low self-efficacy, extra exercises or components may be needed to promote full RTW.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-41
JournalJournal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Common mental disorders
  • MOOD
  • Return to work
  • Self-efficacy
  • Sickness absence


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