Normal life events become medical eventsApproximately 60% of all sick leave in Sweden is now related to anxiety, depression, pain and various forms of stress-related diagnosis. Most patients with such problems are treated within the primary care system.
Åsa Kadowaki Photo credit David Brohede“Patients with mild to moderate depression, for example, require more than simply being prescribed sick leave. Today, normal crises and life events are turned into medical events by the use of sick leave. But it should rather be a case of learning to live with one’s emotions and managing them. This is why we in the medical care system must take back the possibility of using medicine, and take action that helps the patient”, says Åsa Kadowaki.
Reduced sick leaveShe is a psychiatrist and licensed CBT therapist working for Region Kalmar, and principal author of an article published in the scientific journal BMC Family Practice. The article describes how medical care personnel at five local healthcare centres in Region Kalmar have been given training in how to approach their patients, with the aid of ACT. The study included comparison with five local healthcare centres in Region Jönköping, where the personnel had not received ACT training or supervision. The results show that while patient sick leave was reduced by 21% in Kalmar, it did not change at all in Jönköping.
Conscious presence and acceptanceACT comprises several techniques with the objective of promoting beneficial change for the user. One technique is conscious presence, while another is acceptance of uncomfortable emotions and thoughts. The ACT training given to medical care personnel consist of lectures on how the personnel can approach their patients and their symptoms, supervision, and cross-disciplinary meetings in which some cases were discussed.
“It’s important that it is not just the doctors, but also, for example, nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists at the local healthcare centre who are given the opportunity for training, such that all members of a team contribute and travel in the same direction. Our objective is to help people to take their own decisions about what needs to change in order for them to achieve sustainability in their lives. This can take place by, for example, motivational consultations”, Åsa Kadowaki says. She also teaches on the medical programme at Linköping University.
Fredrik Nyström is professor of internal medicine at Linköping University and has been scientific leader of the study.
“Åsa Kadowaki has carried out most of the training and supervised the medical care personnel. The results show that her ACT-based method works. No other mental health intervention has given such a large reduction in the amount of sick leave”, says Fredrik Nyström.
The article: “Education of the primary health care staff based on acceptance and commitment therapy is associated with reduced sick leave in a prospective controlled trial”
Translation: George Farrants