Sick leave duration as a potential marker of functionality and disease severity in depression

Hans Peter Volz*, Elis Bartečků, Lucie Bartova, João Bessa, Domenico De Berardis, Jozef Dragasek, Hristo Kozhuharov, Maria Ladea, Judit Lazáry, Miquel Roca, Grigory Usov, Adam Wichniak, Brian Godman, Siegfried Kasper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To discuss the impact of depression on work and how depression-related sick leave duration could be a potential indicator and outcome for measuring functionality in depression. Methods: Our review was based on a literature search and expert opinion that emerged during a virtual meeting of European psychiatrists that was convened to discuss this topic. Results: Current evidence demonstrates that depression-related sick leave duration is influenced by multiple disease-, patient- and work-related factors, together with societal attitudes towards depression and socioeconomic conditions. A wide variety of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments and work-based interventions are effective in reducing depression-related sick leave duration and/or facilitating return to work. Recent real-world evidence showed that patients treated with antidepressant monotherapy appear to recover their working life faster than those receiving combination therapy. Although depression-related sick leave duration was found to correlate with severity of depressive symptoms, it cannot be used alone as a viable marker for disease severity. Conclusions: Given its multifactorial nature, depression-related sick leave duration is not on its own a viable outcome measure of depression severity but could be used as a secondary outcome alongside more formal severity measures and may also represent a useful measure of functionality in depression. Key points Depression in the working population and depression-related sick leave have a profound economic impact on society Depression-related sick leave duration is influenced by multiple disease-, patient- and work-related factors, together with societal attitudes towards depression and socioeconomic conditions A wide variety of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments and work-based interventions have been shown to be effective in reducing depression-related sick leave duration and/or facilitating return to work In terms of pharmacological intervention, recent real-world evidence has shown that patients treated with antidepressant monotherapy are able to recover their working life faster than those treated with combination therapy Although depression-related sick leave duration has been shown to correlate with severity of depressive symptoms, it is not a viable outcome measure of depression severity on its own, but could be used as secondary outcome alongside more formal clinician- and patient-rated severity measures Depression-related sick leave duration may, however, represent a viable outcome for measuring functionality in depression.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Absenteeism
  • depression
  • functionality
  • major depressive disorder
  • return to work
  • sick leave

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