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South African Journal of Occupational Therapy

On-line version ISSN 2310-3833
Print version ISSN 0038-2337


SAONATSE, Lebohang; DE WITT, Patricia Ann  and  VAN NIEKERK, Matty. Experiences and perceptions of Return to Work (RTW) by clients with major depressive disorder in an extended sick leave period. S. Afr. j. occup. ther. [online]. 2019, vol.49, n.1, pp.36-42. ISSN 2310-3833.

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 from the data, 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 hospitalisation 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. These findings have implications for vocational preparation by occupational therapists during this extended sick leave period.

Keywords : Major Depressive Disorder; Perceptions; Experiences; Return to Work.

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