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Collaborative case management to aid return to work after long-term sickness absence: a pilot randomised controlled trial

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JournalPublic Health Research
DatePublished - 1 Jan 2018
Issue number2
Number of pages108
Original languageEnglish


Background: Despite high levels of employment among working-age adults in the UK, there is still a significant minority who are off work with ill health at any one time (so-called ‘sickness absence’). Long-term sickness absence results in significant costs to the individual, to the employer and to wider society.
Objective: The overall objective of the intervention was to improve employee well-being with a view to aiding return to work. To meet this aim, a collaborative case management intervention was adapted to the needs of UK employees who were entering or experiencing long-term sickness absence.
Design: A pilot randomised controlled trial, using permuted block randomisation. Recruitment of patients with long-term conditions in settings such as primary care was achieved by screening of routine records, followed by mass mailing of invitations to participants. However, the proportion of patients responding to such invitations can be low, raising concerns about external validity. Recruitment in the Case Management to Enhance Occupational Support (CAMEOS) study used this method to test whether or not it would
transfer to a population with long-term sickness absence in the context of occupational health (OH).
Participants: Employed people on long-term sickness absence (between 4 weeks and 12 months). The pilot was run with two different collaborators: a large organisation that provided OH services for a number of clients and a non-profit community-based organisation.
Intervention: Collaborative case management was delivered by specially trained case managers from the host organisations. Sessions were delivered by telephone and supported use of a self-help handbook.
The comparator was usual care as provided by participants’ general practitioner (GP) or OH provider. This varied for participants according to the services available to them. Neither participants nor the research team were blind to randomisation.

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