Presentation T O32

T O32 (Oral Presentation):
Effect and process evaluation of the Danish national return-to-work program

Presented by: Birgit Aust


Aust B1, Poulsen OM1, Nielsen MBD2, Hansen JV1, Rugulies R1, Winzor G1

  1. National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. Oxford Research A/S, Frederiksberg, Denmark



Long-term sickness absence and work disability put a considerable strain on the individual as well as on public finances. Many countries therefore aim to improve their work disability management systems. This study examines the implementation and the effects of the Danish National Return to Work program. The Danish Government launched the program in 2010 to enhance return to work (RTW) after sickness absence and promote labor market attainment. The program comprised a coordinated, tailored and multidisciplinary effort (CTM) for sickness absence beneficiaries at high risk for exclusion from the labor market, delivered by multidisciplinary teams. We analyzed the effect of the program on recovery from long term sickness absence and examined to what degree the program was implemented in the different municipalities.


We conducted a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in three (n=3,105) of the in total 21 participating municipalities. Using register data on social transfer payments, we analyzed the effects of the program on length of sickness absence. Further, we performed a comprehensive process evaluation, including both qualitative and quantitative assessments of the implementation in all 21 municipalities.


The intervention effects differed significantly between the three municipalities. The intervention resulted in a statistically significant increased rate of recovery from long-term sickness absence in one municipality (HR 1.51, 95% CI 1.31-1.74), whereas no statistical significant effects were found in the two other municipalities. The process evaluation showed large variations in the implementation of the program, which might partly explain the different effects. However, other aspects not related to the implementation of the program might have also played a role.


The effect of the intervention differed substantially between the municipalities, indicating that contextual factors were of major importance for success or failure of this complex intervention.

Schedule Details

Tuesday September 30
15:45 - 17:30 Afternoon Concurrent Sessions (T O25 - T O38 and Seminar 6)
Session: Social Interventions for work disability
Room A