Presentation M O7

M O7 (Oral Presentation):
The key role of the immediate supervisor regarding the return to work of employees with depression: The importance of a work accommodation plan

Presented by: Alessia Negrini


Negrini A1, Corbière M2, St-Arnaud L3, Durand M-J2, Coutu M-F2, Lecomte T4, Berbiche D5

  1. Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST)
  2. Centre for Action in Work Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation (CAPRIT), School of Rehabilitation, Université de Sherbrooke
  3. Université Laval
  4. Université de Montréal
  5. Centre de recherche - Centre de santé et de services sociaux Champlain—Charles-Le Moyne, Université de Sherbrooke



Depression is among the leading causes of psychological disability in the workplace (WHO, 2011), and employees diagnosed with depression may need specific work accommodations to facilitate their return to work (Nieuwenhuijsen et al., 2004). Previous studies showed that the Immediate Supervisor (IS) plays an important role in the implementation of these accommodations. The objective of this study is to assess the role of IS in the RTW process of employees diagnosed with depression: before and during the absence, and at the time of the RTW.


This study, carried out in Quebec (Canada), includes a mixed design. Telephone interviews (adapted by Nieuwenhuijsen et al., 2004) were conducted with the IS of employees having been absent from work due to depression. The Work Accommodation and Natural Support Scale (WANSS, Corbière et al., in press) was also administered to IS to learn which specific work accommodations they have implemented at the time of the RTW of the employee. Logistic regression analyses were computed for the dependent variable -IS followed a work accommodation plan at the time of the RTW of an employee diagnosed with depression- to assess the contribution of three independent variables.


Of the 58 respondents, 53% were women, 26% were aged between 51 and 55 years, 64% worked in the public sector, 61% worked in a very large company (size>500), and 69% were senior executives or department heads. The IS described the RTW process of employees who were absent at least once during the last three years (from 1 month to 1 year and more). Close to 90% of employees have maintained their jobs. Logistic regression results showed that the three-predictor model significantly predicted the dependant variable (χ²(3) = 14.96, p = .002; –2LL = 48.73; Nagelkerke R2 = .37). The most often (> 80%) WANSS items implemented in the workplace were related to the IS support (e.g., IS takes time to assist/guide the employee = 100%; IS gives rewards or recognition to the employee = 97%; IS provides feedback to employee about his/her work = 91%; IS modifies his/her expectations of the employee performance = 84%).


This study aimed at assessing the key role of the IS in the RTW of employees on sick leave due to depression. The IS’s low level of stigmatizing attitudes against people with disabilities, the quality of the relationship between the IS and the employee before his/her work absence, contacts between IS and employee during his/her work absence, and the support from IS facilitated the RTW of people diagnosed with depression. These results can be useful for developing concrete action plans to promote a successful RTW for employees on sick leave due to depression.

Schedule Details

Monday September 29
10:45 - 12:15 Morning Concurrent Sessions (M O1 - M O12 and Seminar 1)
Session: Supervisors’ involvement in Work Disability
Room A