Prevalence and characteristics of work-anxiety in medical rehabilitation patients : a cross-sectional observation study

Objective: To investigate frequency, type and characteristics of work-anxieties in somatic rehabilitation inpatients. Work-anxieties are serious disorders which affect occupational functioning and often go along with long-term sick leave. Somatic patients may suffer from work-related participation problems due to their chronic health condition. Work-anxieties need specific diagnostic and treatment. Design: This is a cross-sectional observation study. Setting: We investigated inpatients from a neurological, orthopedic and cardiologic rehabilitation clinic. Participants: 1610 patients (18-65 years) were investigated for work-anxieties in a short structured interview. Main outcome measures: Patients who scored high in at least two out of nine work-anxiety leading symptoms and reported impairment were investigated with a differential-diagnostic interview on work-anxieties, and with the MINI interview on non-work-related common mental disorders. Patients also filled in a self-rating on their subjective symptom load and sociodemographic data. Results: About 20-27% of the investigated somatic rehabilitation inpatients (altogether n=393) got a work-anxiety diagnosis. Orthopaedic patients report highest work-anxiety and have longest preceding sick leave (20.6 weeks in past 12 months). Orthopaedic patients suffer from work-related adjustment anxieties, social anxieties, and workplace phobia, while cardiology patients are more often affected from hypochondriac anxieties. Anxieties of insufficiency and worrying occur equally in all indications. Conclusions: About one quarter of somatic rehabilitation patients is in need of additional diagnostic attention due to work-anxieties. Differential diagnostic of work-anxiety is needed for initiating adequate therapeutic action. Somatic rehabilitation physicians should be aware of work-anxieties in their patients, especially in orthopaedic patients with preceding long-term sick leave.


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