Individuals with chronic diseases and mental disorders often experience work-related problems, such as unemployment, absenteeism, reduced productivity and stigmatization in the workplace, leading to negative consequences at individual, national and European levels. The rising prevalence of chronic diseases and mental disorders as well as the current economic crisis make this issue even more problematic and require actions in terms of innovative strategies to improve the participation of these persons in the labour market. However, this is hindered by a lack of knowledge of which strategies are available in the different European countries and their effectiveness, and a lack of clarity regarding the employment-related needs of these individuals, leading to gaps between what is offered and what is needed. To fill this lack of knowledge and clarity, and to bridge this gap between need and effective
strategies, a 2-year EU Horizon 2020 project called PATHWAYS was kicked off in May 2015.

PATHWAYS aims a) to identify integration and re-integration strategies that are available in Europe and beyond, b) to determine their effectiveness, c) to assess the specific employment-related needs of persons with chronic diseases and mental disorders and d) to develop guidelines supporting the implementation of effective professional integration and reintegration strategies. The framework of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) will guide the efforts to reach these aims.

Involvement of 12 partners (see below) with vast expertise in the area of chronic and mental conditions and employment from 10 different European countries allows to compare strategies between different European regions, taking into account cultural, social and political differences. Stakeholder consultations, including advocacy organizations, employers, policy makers, international organizations, and European Union delegates, will provide useful insights to the development and implementation of policy recommendations to improve their integration or reintegration into the workplace. In this way, PATHWAYS will provide the first steps to work towards a more inclusive labour market in which persons with chronic diseases and mental disorders can meaningfully participate.

Partners of the consortiums are:

  • Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neuologico "Carlo Besta" (Milano, Italy) (Coordinator)
  • Chair for Public Health and Health Services Research at the Ludwig-Maximilians University (LMU) (Munich, Germany)
  • Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Madrid, Spain)
  • Parc Sanitar Sant Joan de Déu (Barcelona, Spain)
  • Panepistimio Thessalias (Volos, Greece)
  • University Rehabilitation Institute (Ljubljana, Slovenia)
  • Vseobecna Fakultni Nemocnice (Prague, Czech Republic)
  • Uniwersytet Jagiellonski (Krakau, Poland)
  • Hogskolen i Oslo og Akershus (Oslo, Norway)
  • European Association of Services Providers for Persons with Disabilities AISBL (Brussel, Belgium)
  • Gaital-Klinik (Klagenfurt, Austria)
  • Fachhochschule Kärnten (Spittal an der Drau, Austria)

For more information, please contact Dr. Carla Sabariego (Principal investigator) or Dr. Michaela Coenen .

Model Disab Survey
The motivation for the Model Disability Survey project of the World Health Organisation and the World Bank arose from the recognition, clearly enunciated in the 2012 joint Report on Disability, that there is a worldwide need to collect comprehensive, comparable and relevant disability information that countries can use with confidence. In addition, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities mandates that ratifying States Parties "collect appropriate information, including statistical and research data, to enable them to formulate and implement policies to give effect to the present Convention".

Maratone

MARATONE is a Marie Curie Initial Training Network project that directly addresses the need for high-level training and career pathways in mental health to increase the inter-sectorial and trans-national employability of young scientists in the academic, public and private sectors to meet the enormous challenge of the 2009 EU Parliament Resolution on Mental Health. The Resolution set out recommendations for a comprehensive and integrated mental health strategy for Europe. MARATONE is designed to address the biggest challenge to implementing this ambitious strategy: the lack of training for career pathways for young scientists in multidisciplinary mental health research.

MARATONE is built on the innovative theoretical premise of "horizontal epidemiology", the view that psychosocial difficulties associated with mental health disorders are not exclusively determined by the diagnosis of the particular disorder in a vertical, silo-like pattern but 'horizontally' in a manner that reflects commonalities in the lived experience of people with diverse mental health problems.

Swiss Romanian Cooperation Programme logo
Motivation Romania Foundation (MRF) in partnership with Swiss Paraplegic Research of Switzerland (SPF) started the project "Look at Abilities, Forget Incapacity" – Implementation of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) in social inclusion services for Romanian wheelchair users." The project will be carried out from May 2013 until May 2015.

Rehabilitation is the health strategy that enables people with health conditions to reach and maintain optimal functioning in interaction with the environment. In order to achieve this goal the active involvement of patients in managing their own health care and rehabilitation process, in partnership with health professionals, is essential ! One prerequisite for this is that patients are aware of the own level of functioning and feel confident about their own abilities to influence their current level of functioning, so-called "self-efficacy". A suitable tool for enhancing a patient's perceived self-efficacy has been patient education programs.

 

PARADISE is a coordinated action project funded by the European Union (EU) under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). It is composed of 10 partners across Europe and is coordinated by the Research Unit for Biopsychosocial Health at the department Public Health and Health Care Research at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich. The objective of the PARADISE project is to develop and test an innovative approach to collecting clinical data on the psychosocial difficulties that people experience when they suffer from brain disorders.

Dementia is the most common psychiatric illness in the ageing population. The project called "The ICF as reference for the evaluation of intervention studies in dementia - ICFeffect" conducted under the auspices of  the high-profile "Leuchtturm" project Dementia funded by the Germany Ministry of Health was completed in 2010. The aim of this cooperation between the Department of Primary Medical Care/Centre for Psychosocial Medicine at the University Medical Hospital Hamburg- Eppendorf and the ICF Research Branch was to analyze the extent new instruments are necessary to detect patients' and caregivers' relevant endpoints in intervention studies involving persons with dementia of the Alzheimer's type (PwADT).

Disability is a multi-dimensional phenomenon arising out of an interaction between the individual's health status and the physical and social environment. Disability data, and the instruments to measure it, must reflect this bio-psychosocial model of disability. Valid and reliable information are essential to design, implement or evaluate policies and legislation to combat discrimination and promote social integration, participation and enhance opportunities.

MURINET (Multidisciplinary Research Network on Health and Disability in Europe) was a 4-year (2007-2010), FP6 European Union-funded project coordinated by Dr. Matilde Leonardi (Foundation IRCCS Neurological Institute Carlo Besta, Milan, Italy) and a multidisciplinary consortium of 13 academic and research institutions and NGOs from 7 European countries. 

Measuring health and disability: supporting policy development (MHADIE),  a 3-year project supported by an European Commission Framework six programme Grant, has achieved its aim to demonstrate the feasibility, utility and value of the ICF as a model for harmonising data across populations and sectors in Europe. Such data assist countries in developing realistic, evidence-based and effective social policies for persons with disabilities that will achieve equality of opportunities and full participation.