Critical factors for the return-to-work process among people with affective disorders: Voices from two vocational approaches

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Depression is among the major causes of disability with a negative impact on both daily life and work performance. Whilst depression is the primary cause of sick-leave and unemployment in today's workplace there is a lack of knowledge of the needs of individuals with depression regarding their return-to-work (RTW) process. Objective: To explore which factors are of critical importance for people suffering from depression and who also are unemployed in their RTW-process and to explore the impact of two vocational approaches on the service users' experiences. The study included participants in two vocational rehabilitation approaches; Individual Enabling and Support (IES) and Traditional Vocational Rehabilitation (TVR). Method: Qualitative methods were applied to explore critical factors in the RTW-process. Individuals with affective disorders including depression and bipolar disorder were included. Results Three themes emerged as critical factors; Experiencing hope and power, professionals' positive attitudes, beliefs and behaviours, and employing a holistic perspective and integrating health and vocational service. Conclusion This study has demonstrated critical factors for the return-to-work process as experienced by persons with depression. To experience hope and power, to meet professionals that believe "you can work", who use a person-centred and holistic service approach, are such factors necessary for gaining a real job. In particular, professionals in TVR need to embrace this understanding since their services were not experienced as including these elements.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Occupational Therapy


  • bipolar disorder, Depression, supported employment, vocational rehabilitation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-234
Number of pages14
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan 1
Publication categoryResearch

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Susann Porter, 2019, Lund : Lund University: Faculty of Medicine. 104 p.

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