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Randomized-controlled trial of a group intervention for workplace-related anxieties and workplace phobia

Units for manufactoring
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Work-anxieties need special attention in the diagnostic process and during treatment.

Work-anxieties are often associated with (long-term) sick leave. Thus, they have financial implications for the employer and they bear negative consequences for the professional biography of the affected persons. Work-anxieties need special attention in the diagnostic process and during treatment. This study is the first to evaluate a work-anxiety-coping-group program in a randomized controlled trial within a three-week medical rehabilitation. Treatment objectives were threefold: to achieve an improvement of work-related coping abilities, to increase participants' intention to return to work, and to reduce length of sick leave. It was tested whether a coping- and exposition-oriented group program ("work-anxiety-coping-group") lead to a shorter sick leave duration after rehabilitation, and to a more positive work-coping perception than a saluto-therapeutic wellbeing-group.
Result showed that a work-anxiety-coping-group did not lead to a shorter sick leave duration after rehabilitation in comparison to the wellbeing-group.
In participants who participated longer in the group, there was a reverse development of the two groups concerning perceived work-coping: Participants of the work-anxiety-coping-group reported increasing coping-expectancy, while participants of the wellbeing-group saw their coping decreasing. A confrontation with return to work and work-coping capacities in a three-weeks somatic rehabilitation seems useful in order to prevent a loss of work-coping which occurs when leaving patients with work-anxiety non-confronted.
Future research may focus the question whether a) longer durations of interventions (dose effect), e.g. by means of continued work-directed treatment in outpatient setting, or b) additional support from the workplace may lead to significant decrease in sick leave durations after rehabilitation.


Funded by: DRV Bund (Project 8011-106-31/31.107
Timeline: 1 April 2012 to 31. December 2014
Principal investigators: Prof. Dr. Doris Fay, Prof. Dr. Michael Jöbges
Scientific consultant: Prof. Dr. Michael Linden
Project management: Dr. Beate Muschalla
Project physician: Hadice Ayhan
Student assistants: Bianka Flöge, Luise Heidrich

Selected project-associated Publications

Muschalla, B., Fay, D., & Hoffmann, K. (2016). Entwicklung eines Inventars für Job-Coping und -Rückkehrintention (JoCoRi). [Inventory for Job Coping and Return Intention (JoCoRi)]. Diagnostica, 62(3), 143-156.

Muschalla, B., Fay, D., & Linden, M. (2016). Self-reported workplace perception as indicators of work anxieties. Occupational Medicine, 66, 168-170. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqv160.

Muschalla, B., Flöge, B., & Linden, M. (2015). Comparison of side effects in a work-coping group therapy and a wellbeing group therapy. Manuscript in preparation.

Muschalla, B. (2014). Arbeitsbezogene Ängste in Forschung und Praxis - Ein aktuelles Schnittstellenphänomen. Zeitschrift für Arbeits- und Organisationspsychologie, 58, 206-214. DOI: 10.1026/0932-4089/a000166.

Muschalla, B., Fay, D., Jöbges, M., Linden, M., Ayhan, H., Flöge, B., & Heidrich, M.L. (2014). Evaluation einer Gruppentherapie für arbeitsplatzbezogene Ängste und Arbeitsplatzphobie. Abschlussbericht zum DRV-Forschungsprojekt. Brandenburgklinik Bernau und Universität Potsdam, Arbeits- und Organisationspsychologie.

Muschalla, B.; Heldmann, M.; Fay, D. (2013): The significance of job-anxiety in a working population . Occupational Medicine 63 (6), S. 415–421. DOI: 10.1093/occmed/kqt072.

Muschalla, B., & Linden, M. (2013). Arbeitsplatzbezogene Ängste und Arbeitsplatzphobie. Phänomenologie, Differentialdiagnostik, Therapie, Sozialmedizin. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer-Verlag.