Systematic review: Factors associated with return to work in burnout.

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Abstract

Background

Professional burnout predicts sick leave and even permanent withdrawal from the labour force. However, knowledge of the barriers to and facilitators of return to work (RTW) in such burnout is limited.

Aims

To identify factors associated with RTW of burned-out individuals to inform occupational health care (OHC) RTW policy.

Methods

A systematic search of peer-reviewed quantitative and mixed-method studies published from January 2005 to July 2016 in English and Finnish in ARTO, CINAHL (EBSCO), Medic, PsycINFO (ProQuest), PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science databases, followed by a manual search. We included studies that identify burnout with valid burnout measures and measure the degree of RTW or sick leave as outcomes. We excluded studies with heterogeneous samples without subgroup analyses of RTW in burnout cases.

Results

We included 10 studies (three experimental and seven observational) of the initial 1345 identified. The studies reported work-related factors; enhanced communication (positive association) and low control at work (negative association) and individual-related factors; male gender (positive association), covert coping (negative association), high over-commitment to work (positive association) and burnout-related factors; unimpaired sleep (positive association), duration of sick leave over 6 months (negative association) and part-time sick leave (positive association) associated with RTW in burnout. Associations between burnout rehabilitation and RTW, and the level of symptoms and cognitive impairment and RTW remained unclear.

Conclusions

Few quantitative studies, of varied methodological quality, explore factors associated with RTW in burnout. Further research is needed to build an evidence base and develop guidelines for supportive OHC actions.

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