A Register-Based Study of Occupational Functioning in Non-Psychotic Patients Before and After Psychotherapy

Morten Munthe Fenger, Stig Bernt Poulsen, Erik Lykke Mortensen, Marianne Engelbrecht Lau


Abstract: Background: Mental disorders are an important cause of occupational impairments. Little is known about
whether psychotherapeutic treatment helps patients function in their jobs. This study investigated long-term changes in
occupational functioning for patients referred to treatment.
Method: We recruited 747 consecutive patients and 14,940 matched control subjects. Data on days on sick leave,
unemployment and disability pension were collected for 2002-2007 from central registries and analyzed.
Results: Of the 747 patients, 216 did not show up for treatment and 531 completed treatment. Patients who completed
treatment (completer patients) had, on average, 15.7 days on sick leave two years before treatment and 23.1 days on sick
leave two years after treatment, while the control group had 5.4 and 7.5 days, respectively. Regarding disability pension,
completer patients had 7.6 days before and 14.9 days after treatment, while the control group had 7.8 and 11.0 days,
respectively. Regarding unemployment completer patients had 13.9 and 10.1 days, while control group had 9.0 and 8.3
days, respectively. The analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) showed that completer patients had a significantly higher
number of days on sick leave (p<0.001) and disability pension (p=0.010) compared to the control group, while the change
in days with unemployment was insignificant (p=0.501).
Conclusion: Occupational outcome of psychotherapy may be less advantageous than shown in previous studies.
Differences can perhaps be explained by the length and symmetry of the observation period before and after intervention.
Other possible reasons for the outcome are: disorder chronicity; a labor market that excludes individuals with mental
disorders; and that psychotherapy does not address occupational functioning.
Original languageDanish
Article number7
JournalThe Open Psychiatry Journal
Pages (from-to)1-8
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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