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Work-Anxiety and Sickness Absence After a Short Inpatient Cognitive Behavioral Group Intervention in Comparison to a Recreational Group Meeting

Muschalla, Beate Dr. phil.; Linden, Michael Prof. Dr. med.; Jöbges, Michael Prof. Dr. med.

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: April 2016 - Volume 58 - Issue 4 - p 398–406
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000678
Original Articles

Objective: The aim of this study was to study the effects of a short-term cognitive behavior therapy on work-anxiety and sickness-absence in patients with work-anxiety.

Methods: Three-hundred forty-five inpatients who suffered from cardiologic, neurological, or orthopedic problems and additionally work-anxiety were randomly assigned into two different group interventions. Patients got four sessions of a group intervention, which either focused on cognitive behavior–therapy anxiety–management (work-anxiety coping group, WAG) or unspecific recreational activities (RG).

Results: No differences were found between WAG and RG for work-anxiety and subjective work ability. When looking at patients who were suffering only from work-anxiety, and no additional mental disorder, the duration of sickness absence until 6 months follow-up was shorter in the WAG (WAG: 11 weeks, RG: 16 weeks, P = 0.050).

Conclusion: A short-term WAG may help return to work in patients with work-anxieties, as long as there is no comorbid mental disorder.

Work and Organizational Psychology, University of Potsdam (Dr Muschalla); Brandenburgklinik Bernau, Bernau bei Berlin (Dr Muschalla, Prof Jöbges); and Research Group Psychosomatic Rehabilitation at the Charité University Medicine Berlin, Germany (Prof Linden).

Address correspondence to: Dr. Beate Muschalla, Dr. phil., University of Potsdam, Work and Organizational Psychology, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24–25, 14476 Potsdam, Germany (

This study was conducted with the approval of the Ethics Committee of the University of Potsdam, Germany, and approval by the Internal Review Board of the German Federal Pension Agency.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2016 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine