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Work participation and mental health at work – The ADAPT research project

Research project
Active research
Project size
SEK 7 950 000
Project period
2021 - 2023
Project owner
Institute of Medicine

AFA Försäkring Dnr: 200060, Försäkringskassan Dnr: FK 2020-005231

Short description

How are mental health, work capacity and work environment connected?

A knowledge gap highlighted in previous literature reviews is why some people with Common Mental Disorders (CMDs) are able to continue working while others cannot. In 2022, a sample of employees participated in a web survey to explore the factors that may explain differences in work participation and the impact on work capacity. The results will contribute to a better understanding of workplace facilitators and early identification of CMDs.


Common Mental Disorders such as depression, anxiety and burnout are common in the working population. WHO estimates the annual prevalence in the EU/EEA at 27% in the 18-65 age group.

In Sweden, CMDs are a common cause of sick leave and represent a significant risk of reduced work capacity. Many people continue to work despite symptoms of mental health problems, while others cannot. It is unclear how the work capacity of people with CMDs is affected compared with those without these problems. The New Ways research group has taken an interest in how capacity to work is affected by mental health problems. In previous research an instrument was developed;” The Capacity to Work Index", C2WI.

C2WI consists of questions focusing on various aspects of work capacity with relevance to CMDs. The instrument was included in the web-survey distributed to a large sample of employees. The survey also included questions about health and well-being, work environment and working conditions. To be able to measure work participation, the results of the survey responses will be followed up with register data from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency, 12 months from baseline.

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Photo: Mostphotos, Andrii Yalanskyi


The aim of the study is to investigate how working conditions affect the work capacity of employees with mental health problems compared to those without the same problems. What factors promote work participation among employees with CMDs is a highly relevant question that will be explored in this project.

The ADAPT project is part of the research programme New Ways - Mental Health at Work - Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg. New Ways started as a research programme funded by the FORTE Research Council. The overall aim of the programme was to develop new ways for early identification of mental health issues, adapting the work environment and prevention strategies to support employees. The research conducted within the program has focused on both individual and organizational level with a special focus on working conditions and work environment.