Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a relevant condition to consider regarding Work Capacity Evaluation (WCE) because of its high prevalence, strong impact on short-term work disability, and low rate of treatment. The challenge that faces occupational therapists (OTs) is that there is no specific guideline and process to follow when conducting Work Capacity Evaluation with clients suffering from MDD. The researcher had also noted conflicting opinions with regard to the outcome of Work Capacity Evaluation (WCE) and recommendations in occupational therapy reports. The researcher is of the opinion that indeed occupational therapy assessments need to be clear about what to measure, and selection of appropriate standardised measures and non-standardised assessments is needed. Therefore, the research question was, what are the perceptions and practices of occupational therapists in determining work capacity of employees suffering from major depressive disorder? The aim of this study was to describe the perceptions and practices of occupational therapists in determining work capacity of employees suffering from major depressive disorder. The literature showed that Work Capacity Evaluation assists to determine the employee’s returnto- work. The Code of Good Practice: Dismissal contained in the Labour Relations Act of 1998, stipulates that incapacity on the ground of ill health or injury may be either temporary or permanent. The nature of this study was a mixed method design including both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The phenomenological strategy was used. The study had a sample size of 68 participants, practising as occupational therapists. Purposive sampling was used. The data were collected in four distinct phases, referred to as sequential exploratory strategy with elements of embedded design. Phase one, used descriptive open-ended questions; phase two was a close-ended questionnaire to confirm findings in phase one; phase three consisted of focus group interviews and phase four was member checking to confirm findings in phase three. During data analysis, five themes related to employees suffering from MDD emerged and they were identified as: (1) the content of comprehensive assessment for work capacity evaluation, (2) the process of work capacity evaluation, (3) the competency requirements of the occupational therapist, (4) occupational performance and (5) formulating return-to-work decision. Recommendations related to the five themes were formulated and suggestions for future research proffered. The study clarified and confirmed that occupational therapists have a major role to play in performing work capacity of employees suffering from major depressive disorder, and that they need to be competent in performing these evaluations. Copyright
Dissertation (MOccTher)--University of Pretoria, 2012.