The primary aim of this review study was to gather evidence on the effectiveness in terms of return to work (RTW) of occupational therapy interventions (OTIs) in rehabilitation patients with non-congenital disorders. A secondary aim was to be able to select the most efficient OTI.
A systematic literature review of peer-reviewed papers was conducted using electronic databases (Cinahl, Cochrane Library, Ebsco, Medline (Pubmed), and PsycInfo). The search focussed on randomised controlled trials and cohort studies published in English from 1980 until September 2010. Scientific validity of the studies was assessed.
Starting from 1532 papers with pertinent titles, six studies met the quality criteria. Results show systematic reviewing of OTIs on RTW was challenging due to varying populations, different outcome measures, and poor descriptions of methodology. There is evidence that OTIs as part of rehabilitation programs, increase RTW rates, although the methodological evidence of most studies is weak.
Analysis of the selected papers indicated that OTIs positively influence RTW; two studies described precisely what the content of their OTI was. In order to identify the added value of OTIs on RTW, studies with well-defined OT intervention protocols are necessary.