, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 42-51,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Long-Term Outcomes Following Vocational Rehabilitation Treatments in Patients with Prolonged Fatigue

Abstract

Background

Multi-component vocational rehabilitation (VR) provides positive short-term outcomes in patients with prolonged fatigue.

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the long-term outcomes of Dutch multi-component VR up to 18 months after treatment.

Method

In a pre–post-study, measurements were taken before treatment (t0), after treatment (t1) and in long-term follow-ups at 6 (t2), 12 (t3) and 18 months (t4) after treatment. Primary outcomes (fatigue, work participation and workability) and secondary outcomes [physical and social functioning, mental health and heart rate variability (HRV)] were assessed over time using linear mixed models analyses. Post hoc long-term outcomes were compared with t0 and t1.

Results

Sixty patients with severe fatigue complaints participated. The primary outcomes significantly (p < 0.001) improved at follow-ups compared with t0 and showed no relapse compared with t1. Moreover, fatigue decreased (p < 0.002) whereas workability (p < 0.001) and work participation (p < 0.001) increased further after treatment (t1). The secondary outcomes, physical functioning, mental health, social functioning and HRV, improved significantly (p < 0.001, p < 0.001, p < 0.001 and p = 0.049, respectively) over the long term compared with t0. At 6-month follow-up (t2), mental health (p < 0.003) and social functioning (p = 0.003) further increased after the treatment was stopped.

Conclusion

Multi-component VR treatments seem to significantly and in a clinically relevant way decrease fatigue symptoms and improve individual functioning and work participation in patients with severe prolonged fatigue over the long term and without showing relapse.