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Return to work after vocational rehabilitation: does mindfulness matter?

Authors Vindholmen S, Høigaard R, Espnes GA, Seiler S

Received 15 October 2013

Accepted for publication 5 December 2013

Published 26 February 2014 Volume 2014:7 Pages 77—88

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S56013

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3


Solveig Vindholmen,1 Rune Høigaard,2 Geir Arild Espnes,3 Stephen Seiler4

1Department of Psychosocial Health, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway; 2Department of Public Health, Sport and Nutrition, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway; 3Research Centre for Health Promotion and Resources, Department of Social Work and Health Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway; 4Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway

Purpose: Mindfulness has become an important construct in return-to-work (RTW) rehabilitation. The aim of this study was to investigate whether mindfulness is a predictor for RTW, and to examine the indirect effect of mindfulness on RTW and work ability through quality of life (QOL).
Methods: A retrospective study was conducted among 80 former participants (71 females and seven males) from age 24 to 66, in a multidisciplinary vocational rehabilitation program (MVRP). Self-report questionnaires were used to measure work status, work ability, QOL, and mindfulness. Demographic data were also collected.
Results: In the current sample, 47% of participants reported having returned to ordinary work. The majority of the non-working sub-sample reported being in work-related activity or education. A bias-corrected bootstrapping technique was used to examine indirect effects. Results revealed that mindfulness was indirectly related to both RTW and work ability through QOL. There was no significant total effect of mindfulness on work ability or RTW. Logistic regression analysis was performed to assess the impact of mindfulness on the likelihood that respondents returned to work. None of the independent mindfulness variables (observe, describe, act aware, non-judge, non-react) made a unique statistically significant contribution to the model. The covariates work ability and education level significantly predicted RTW. However, when the data were analyzed after stratification by education level, the "observation" facet of mindfulness made a significant contribution to the model (odds ratio =1.28, confidence interval =1.03–1.59) for "high educated" participants.
Conclusion: These data suggest that mindfulness may enhance RTW and work ability through QOL. Furthermore, for "high educated" participants the observation facet of mindfulness significantly predicted RTW.

Keywords: work ability, quality of life, multidisciplinary, mindfulness, return to work, vocational rehabilitation

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