Depression-Related Short-Term Disability in an Employed Population

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Abstract

Learning Objectives

There has been a growing realization that the number of workplace disability claims for mental and nervous disorders is increasing. Yet, little is known about the working population disabled by these disorders. Absence of basic information describing this population makes it virtually impossible to plan effective workplace programs. Using administrative data collected from three major Canadian financial/insurance sector employers, we focus on one group of disorders—depression. In this study, we report the prevalence of short-term disability due to depression and describe the characteristics of workers affected and their disability outcomes. We observed that compared with other nervous and mental disorders, depression-related short-term disability generally affected more employees, lasted longer, and had a higher rate of recurrence. In addition, at the end of their episodes more than three quarters of workers returned to work. These estimates suggest that the potential magnitude of the impact of short-term disability should be a concern for employers. This study helps identify the main characteristics of workers who develop depression-related disability. It also helps clarify what happens to those on short-term disability.

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