Experiences and perceptions of Return to work by Clients with Major Depressive Disorder in an extend sick leave period

Lebohang Saohatse, Patricia Ann de Witt, Matty Van Niekerk



Introduction: Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) may cause difficulties that can influence employment.  Although clients with MDD are typically expected to return to work (RTW) early, most are given the maximum duration of sick leave subsidised by their medical aid scheme, to recover.  This study explored the lived perceptions and experiences of clients with MDD whilst on extended sick leave.

Methods: The study used a descriptive phenomenological qualitative study design. Data were collected through  informant interviews.  An inductive content analysis was used to analyse the data.

Findings: Eight participants were included in the study, of which 75% (n=6) were females and 25% (n=2) were males.  One theme emerged namely ‘waiting to RTW’ with three categories (1) ‘ruminating about RTW’, (2) ‘fears about RTW’ and (3) ‘social pressures to RTW’.

Conclusion: The period of waiting to RTW after hospitalization was found to be stressful due to perceived work issues and rumination about work politics that were perceived to contribute to the illness. However, social pressures also play a vital role as a facilitator to RTW.  This has some implications for vocational preparation by occupational therapists during this extended sick leave period.

Key words: Major Depressive Disorder, Perceptions, Experiences, Return to Work.


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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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