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07.06.2019 | Original Article

No impact of an extensive social intervention program on return to work and quality of life after acute cardiac event: a cluster-randomized trial in patients with negative occupational prognosis

International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Annett Salzwedel, Karl Wegscheider, Claudia Schulz-Behrendt, Gesine Dörr, Rona Reibis, Heinz Völler
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To examine the effectiveness of extensive social therapy intervention during inpatient multi-component cardiac rehabilitation (CR) on return to work and quality of life in patients with low probability of work resumption after an acute cardiac event.


Patients after acute cardiac event with negative subjective expectations about return to work or unemployment (n = 354) were included and randomized in clusters of 3–6 study participants. Clusters were randomized for social counseling and therapy led by a social worker, six sessions of 60 min each in 3 weeks, or control group (usual care: individual counseling meeting by request). The return to work (RTW) status and change in quality of life (QoL, short form 12: Physical and Mental Component Summary PCS and MCS) 12 months after discharge from inpatient CR were outcome measures.


The regression model for RTW showed no impact of the intervention (OR 1.1, 95% CI 0.6–2.1, P = 0.79; n = 263). Predictors were unemployment prior to CR as well as higher anxiety values at discharge from CR. Likewise, QoL was not improved by social therapy (linear mixed model: ΔPCS 0.3, 95% CI − 1.9 to 2.5; P = 0.77; n = 177; ΔMCS 0.7, 95% CI − 1.9 to 3.3; P = 0.58; n = 215).


In comparison to usual care, an intensive program of social support for patients during inpatient cardiac rehabilitation after an acute cardiac event had no additional impact on either the rate of resuming work or quality of life.

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