Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

Published by Springer Nature
Online ISSN: 1573-3688
Print ISSN: 1053-0487
Learn more about this page
Recent publications
Trial profile. A: each cluster consists of five groups with eight participants each (N = 40), cluster 1: two groups from Aargau (N = 16) and three groups from Zurich (N = 24), cluster 2: one group from Aargau (N = 8) and 4 groups from Zurich (N = 32), cluster 3: four groups from Aargau and one group from Zurich (N = 8) B: unsupervised intervention. C: N = 107 participants started the intervention at the allocated time point, N = 7 dropped out during the (supervised) intervention period (group 1: N = 3; group 2, N = 2; group 3, N = 2), N = 100 completed the (supervised) intervention, 94 completed the full trial (attrition rate of 22%). Further comments: No intervention from 04/20 to 08/20 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Participation rate Aargau: 10.4% (56 of 540 office workers) and Zurich 8.1% (64 of 793 office workers)
Purpose Neck pain is common among office workers and leads to work productivity loss. This study aimed to investigate the effect of a multi-component intervention on neck pain-related work productivity loss among Swiss office workers. Methods Office workers, aged 18–65 years, and without serious neck-related health problems were recruited from two organisations for our stepped-wedge cluster randomized controlled trial. The 12-week multi-component intervention included neck exercises, health-promotion information, and workplace ergonomics. The primary outcome of neck pain-related work productivity loss was measured using the Work Productivity and Activity Impairment Questionnaire and expressed as percentages of working time. In addition, we reported the weekly monetary value of neck pain-related work productivity loss. Data was analysed on an intention-to-treat basis using a generalized linear mixed-effects model. Results Data from 120 participants were analysed with 517 observations. At baseline, the mean age was 43.7 years (SD 9.8 years), 71.7% of participants were female (N = 86), about 80% (N = 95) reported mild to moderate neck pain, and neck pain-related work productivity loss was 12% of working time (absenteeism: 1.2%, presenteeism: 10.8%). We found an effect of our multi-component intervention on neck pain-related work productivity loss, with a marginal predicted mean reduction of 2.8 percentage points (b = −0.27; 95% CI: −0.54 to −0.001, p = 0.049). Weekly saved costs were Swiss Francs 27.40 per participant. Conclusions: Our study provides evidence for the effectiveness of a multi-component intervention to reduce neck pain-related work productivity loss with implications for employers, employees, and policy makers. Trial Registration ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04169646. Registered 15 November 2019—Retrospectively registered, https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04169646.
 
PRISMA flow diagram
Purpose The sustainable employability of healthcare professionals in aged care is under pressure, but research into the effectiveness of interventions aimed at improving employees’ sustainable employability is scarce. This review therefore aimed to investigate the effectiveness of workplace interventions on sustainable employability of healthcare professionals in aged care. Methods A systematic literature search was performed. Studies were included when reporting about the effect of an intervention at work in an aged care setting on outcomes related to one of the three components of sustainable employability (i.e. workability, vitality, employability). The methodological quality of each study was assessed and a rating system was used to determine the level of evidence. Additionally, a sensitivity analysis was performed, accounting for the match between the intervention’s focus and the targeted component of sustainable employability. Results Current review includes 32 interventions published between 1996 and 2019. Interventions covered learning and improving skills, changing the workplace, and exercising or resting. The initial analysis showed a strong level of evidence for employability and insufficient evidence for workability and vitality. The sensitivity analysis revealed strong evidence for the effectiveness of interventions addressing either employability or workability, and insufficient evidence for vitality. Conclusions Evidence for workplace interventions on sustainable employability of healthcare professionals in aged care differed. We found strong evidence for effects of workplace interventions on employability and for those directly targeting workability. Evidence for effects of interventions on vitality was insufficient. The alignment of the interventions to the targeted component of sustainable employability is important for effectiveness.
 
Variety of return to work frameworks and processes across countries
Purpose Return to work is a complex and challenging process which takes various forms in different contexts. The aim of this study is to explore and compare cross-country differences in stakeholders’ experiences and views on actors, policies and practices relevant for return to work after long-term sickness absence. The comparative exploration is done in six countries with various legislative backgrounds, welfare and social dialogue systems. Methods Using a purposive sample, six multidisciplinary stakeholders group discussions were conducted in six countries: Belgium, Estonia, Ireland, Italy, Romania and Slovakia. A total of 51 individuals comprised of social partners, policymakers or representatives of public bodies and patient associations participated. An interpretative phenomenological analysis was employed to derive the most important themes in the discussions. Results Five major themes emerged from the group discussions. A graphic model is proposed to emphasize the variety of frameworks and processes across countries. Conclusions The core part of the return to work process is the dynamic relation between legislation, stakeholders and practices, which is influenced by broader national and societal factors. The cross-country variation in legislations, stakeholders and practices can be understood as a continuum, from low to high structuring, development and comprehensiveness. Although social dialogue appears to have a role in return to work process with variation across countries, it is not always on top of the agenda of social partners.
 
The six identified trajectories of sickness absence days among workers on sick leave due to musculoskeletal disorders over 1 year (N = 549). For each trajectory, the solid-coloured lines represent the predicted trajectory, and the grey dashed lines represent the 95% confidence intervals. The percentage of the cohort belonging to each trajectory group is above each figure
Distribution of the sickness absence trajectories according to musculoskeletal diagnosis (N = 549)
Purpose This study aimed to identify trajectories of sickness absence in workers on sick leave due to musculoskeletal disorders and explore the association between these trajectories and established prognostic factors for sickness absence. Methods We conducted a prospective cohort study of 549 workers (56% women, aged 18–67 years) on sick leave due to musculoskeletal disorders in Norway in 2018–2019. Sickness absence data were collected from the Norwegian sick leave registry and prognostic factors via self-reported baseline questionnaires. We used group-based trajectory modelling to define the different trajectories of sickness absence spanning a 1-year period. Multivariable multinomial logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for prognostic factors associated with the identified trajectory groups. Results We identified six distinct trajectories of sickness absence over 1 year: ‘fast decrease’ (27% of the cohort): ‘moderate decrease’ (22%); ‘slow decrease’ (12%); ‘u-shape’ (7%); ‘persistent moderate’ (13%); and ‘persistent high’ (18%). Prognostic factors, such as previous sickness absence days, return-to-work expectancy, workability, multisite pain, and health scores, differentiated between the sickness absence trajectories (all P < 0.05). Negative return-to-work expectancy was associated with the three trajectory groups with the highest number of sickness absence days (‘slow decrease’, ‘persistent moderate’, and ‘persistent high’). Conclusions This is the first study to explore the association of return-to-work expectancy with trajectories of sickness absence. Our findings highlight different patterns of sickness absence and the complex range of prognostic factors. These findings have implications for secondary and tertiary prevention strategies for work absence in workers with musculoskeletal disorders.
 
Scoping literature search and selection
Relevant qualitative studies on policies and practices for the inclusion of vulnerable workers, listed from highest quality to lowest quality
Relevant mixed-methods studies on policies and practices for the inclusion of vulnerable workers, listed from highest quality to lowest quality
Purpose Current models of inclusive workplaces are primarily based on the perceptions of vulnerable workers, whereas attention for employer’s perceptions is lacking. This scoping review addresses this issue by mapping the literature that covers employer’s perceptions on the application and importance of organisational policies and practices aimed at the inclusion of vulnerable workers. Methods A literature search for qualitative and quantitative research articles was conducted in MEDLINE, Scopus, ProQuest, PsychInfo, Google Scholar and Web of Science. Studies were included when (a) they reported on practices aimed at the inclusion, participation, or rehabilitation of (b) workers with disabilities, a low education or migration background, or who were long-term unemployed, and (c) were based on samples of employers or their representatives. Results The search resulted in 3,134 articles. In total, 38 articles met the inclusion criteria of this study. We identified seven types of inclusive practices to stimulate the inclusion of vulnerable workers that employers applied and/or perceived as valuable: senior management commitment, recruitment and selection, performance management and development practices, job accommodations and redesign of work, supportive culture, external collaborations with other employers, and monitoring. Conclusions Our review identified seven categories of inclusive practices that pertain to all stages of the employee journey of vulnerable workers. These categories move beyond those reported in studies based on employee samples, for instance by highlighting the importance of monitoring and collaborations with other employers. Hence, our findings stress that insight into employers’ perceptions about effective measures is crucial to increase labour market participation of vulnerable groups.
 
Inclusion flow chart of total knee arthroplasty patients who intended to return to work after surgery (TKA total knee arthroplasty, RTW return to work)
Kaplan Meier survival curves of time to RTW (calendar days) among TKA patients with (thick solid line) and without (dashed line) a consult of an occupational medicine specialist within 3 months postoperative (n = 182) differ, p = 0.03 (RTW return to work, TKA total knee arthroplasty, OMS occupational medicine specialist)
Kaplan Meier survival curves of time to RTW (calendar days) among TKA patients with (thick solid line) and without (dashed line) a consult of an occupational medicine specialist within 3 months postoperative (n = 182) differ, p = 0.03 (RTW return to work, TKA total knee arthroplasty, OMS occupational medicine specialist)
Purpose The aim of this study is to investigate whether total knee arthroplasty (TKA) patients who consulted an occupational medicine specialist (OMS) within 3 months after surgery, return to work (RTW) earlier than patients who did not consult an OMS. Methods A multi-center prospective cohort study was performed among working TKA patients, aged 18 to 65 years and intending to RTW. Time to RTW was analyzed using Kaplan Meier and Mann Whitney U (MWU), and multiple linear regression analysis was used to adjust for effect modification and confounding. Results One hundred and eighty-two (182) patients were included with a median age of 59 years [IQR 54–62], including 95 women (52%). Patients who consulted an OMS were less often self-employed but did not differ on other patient and work-related characteristics. TKA patients who consulted an OMS returned to work later than those who did not (median 78 versus 62 days, MWU p < 0.01). The effect of consulting an OMS on time to RTW was modified by patients’ expectations in linear regression analysis (p = 0.05). A median decrease in time of 24 days was found in TKA patients with preoperative high expectations not consulting an OMS (p = 0.03), not in patients with low expectations. Conclusions Consulting an OMS within 3 months after surgery did not result in a decrease in time to RTW in TKA patients. TKA patients with high expectations did RTW earlier without consulting an OMS. Intervention studies on how OMSs can positively influence a timely RTW, incorporating patients’ preoperative expectations, are needed.
 
Purpose For employees with a work disability adequate daily guidance from supervisors is key for sustainable employability. Supervisors often lack expertise to guide this group of employees. Mentorwijs (literal translation: Mentorwise) is a training for supervisors to improve the guidance of employees with a work disability. The aim of this study was to investigate the experiences of employees with a work disability regarding: (1) the guidance from their supervisors (who followed the Mentorwijs training), (2) which differences they notice in the guidance due to the Mentorwijs training, and (3) what kind of aspects they consider important in their guidance to achieve sustainable employability. Methods A qualitative study was performed with semi-structured (group) interviews among twenty-one employees with a work disability. Thematic analysis was performed to analyze the data. Results Themes that followed from the interviews were: (1) work tasks and conditions can facilitate or hinder sustainable employability: (2) relationships among employees and with supervisors can affect sustainable employability; (3) a desire for new opportunities and challenges; and (4) a need for supervisor skills to facilitate sustainable employability, i.e. appreciation, availability of help, dealing with problems, listening, attitude and communication. According to employees, changes were mainly noticed in supervisor skills. Conclusions Employees with a work disability were very satisfied with the guidance of supervisors who followed the Mentorwijs training. To improve sustainable employability, training of supervisors should focus more on adequate work conditions, providing employees opportunities to learn new work tasks and improving supervisors’ skills regarding appreciation, attitude and communication.
 
Actor-Partner Interdependence Model applied to this study. Conceptual Actor-Partner Interdependence Model depicting the examined actor and partner effects of illness perceptions on expectations about the worker's return to work within worker-significant other dyads
Final Actor-Partner Interdependence model with beta coefficients for the association between the illness perceptions score and expectations about the worker’s full RTW. *p < .05. As there were no statistically significant differences in effects between workers and significant others, the average actor and partner effects were estimated in the final model. Actor-Partner Interdependence Model depicting the average actor and partner effects of dyad members’ composite illness perception scores on their expectations about the worker's full return to work
Purpose To examine the associations between illness perceptions and expectations about full return to work (RTW) of workers with chronic diseases and their significant others. Methods This study used cross-sectional data of 94 dyads consisting of workers with chronic diseases and their significant others. We performed dyadic analyses based on the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (APIM), estimating associations of illness perceptions of the two members of the dyad with their own expectations about the worker’s full RTW within six months (actor effect) as well as with the other dyad member’s expectations about the worker’s RTW (partner effect). Results Illness perceptions of one dyad member were significantly associated with his or her own RTW expectations (actor effect composite illness perceptions score; B = −0.05, p < .001; r d = .37) and with the other dyad member’s RTW expectations (partner effect composite illness perceptions score; B = −0.04, p < .001; r d = .35). That is, more negative illness perceptions of one member of the dyad were associated with more negative RTW expectations in both dyad members. For most illness perception domains, we found small to moderate actor and partner effects on RTW expectations ( r d range: .23–.44). Conclusions This study suggests that illness perceptions and RTW expectations should be considered at a dyadic level as workers and their significant others influence each other’s beliefs. When trying to facilitate adaptive illness perceptions and RTW expectations, involving significant others may be more effective than an individualistic approach targeted at the worker only.
 
PRISMA flow chart describing the article scarch process and study selection
Purpose: Young people with disabilities are persistently under-employed and experience concerning rates of discrimination and ableism in looking for work and within the workplace. Focusing on youth is salient because rates of ableism are often higher among younger ages compared to older. The objective of this systematic review was to explore the experiences and impact of workplace discrimination and ableism among youth and young adults with disabilities. Methods: Systematic searches of seven databases from 2000 to 2021 were conducted. Four reviewers independently applied the inclusion criteria, extracted the data and rated the study quality. Results: Of the 39 studies meeting our inclusion criteria, they represented 516,281 participants across eight countries over a 20-year period. The findings highlight the rates of workplace ableism, factors affecting workplace ableism (i.e., type of disability, gender, education level, lack of employers’ knowledge about disability), ableism in job searching and anticipated ableism. The review also noted the impact of workplace ableism, which included pay discrimination, lack of job supports and social exclusion, job turnover and unemployment, and discrimination allegations and charges. Conclusions: Our findings reveal the stark prevalence of workplace ableism among youth and young adults with disabilities. There is an urgent need for further in-depth research to understand youth’s lived experiences of ableism and the development of solutions to address it so they can be included in a meaningful and respectful way in the workplace.
 
Path coefficients for serial multiple mediation analysis on job satisfaction
Note: Dotted line denotes the effect of organizational support on job satisfaction when autonomous motivation to work, work engagement, and organizational commitment are not included as serial mediators.
*p ≤ .05, **p < .01.
Background Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of peer support specialists in helping people with severe mental illness increase community tenure, decrease hospitalization, boost treatment satisfaction, improve social functioning, and increase quality of life. Objective The purpose of the present study was to evaluate positive organizational psychology constructs as serial multiple mediators of the relationships between perceived organizational support and job satisfaction among peer support specialists. Methods One hundred and twenty-one peer support specialists from the Texas statewide peer certification training programs and the National Association of Peer Supporters participated in the present study. These peer support specialists completed an online survey composed of self-report measures related to perceived organizational support, positive organizational psychology factors, and job satisfaction. A serial multiple mediation (SMMA) analysis was conducted to evaluate autonomous motivation to work, work engagement, and organizational commitment as mediators of the relationship between perceived organizational support and job satisfaction. Results The SMMA model accounted for 49% of the variation in job satisfaction scores (R² =. 49, f² = 0.96 [> 0.35], a large effect size). Autonomous motivation to work, work engagement, and organizational commitment were significantly associated with job satisfaction after controlling for the effect of perceived organizational support. Conclusions Perceived organizational support increased autonomous motivation to work, work engagement, organizational commitment, and job satisfaction. Peer support specialists are integral members of the interdisciplinary mental health treatment team. Leaders of community-based mental health and rehabilitation agencies who are committed to hire and retain peer support specialists must provide strong organizational support and develop interventions to increase peer support specialists’ autonomous motivation to work, work engagement, and organizational commitment as a job retention and career development strategy.
 
Flow chart of emotional and behavioural consequences of procedural unfairness.
Purpose Injured workers can experience adverse effects from work injury and claims processes.Workers may be treated unfairly by employers, compensation boards, and return-to-work coordinators; however,how workers respond to these challenges is unknown. This article describes how injured precarious workersresponded behaviourally and emotionally to procedural unfairness in work injury and claims processes, and whatworkers did next. Methods Interviews were conducted with thirty-six precariously employedinjured workers recruited in Ontario through social media, email, cold calling, word-of-mouth, and the “snowball”method. Thematic code summaries were analyzed to identify how precarious workers responded to procedural unfairness. Results Workers went through all or most of these five stages (not always linearly)when faced with procedural unfairness: (1) passive, (2) fought back, (3) quit pursuit of claim, (4) quit job, and (5)won or got further in fight. Feeling confused, angry, frustrated, unsupported, disappointed, determined, optimistic,and wary were common emotions. Conclusions Identifying unfairness and its emotional,behavioral, and material effects on workers is important to understand implications for compensation systems.Understanding and recognizing unfairness can equip employers, legal representatives, compensation boards, andphysicians, to address and prevent it, and provide worker resources. Policy changes can ensure accountability andconsequences to unfairness initiators.
 
Steps and modes of inference of synthesis process
Conceptual framework describing Early Intervention Vocational Rehabilitation
Purpose Early intervention vocational rehabilitation (EIVR) can improve return to work (RTW) outcomes for people with spinal cord injury (SCI). However, mechanisms explaining how and why EIVR works are not well understood. This study aims to develop a conceptual framework describing key mechanisms of EIVR intervention effect following SCI. Methods We synthesised data from a realist literature review with data from interviews of people with SCI (n = 30), a survey of people with SCI who had received EIVR (n = 37), a focus group of EIVR providers and a focus group of community vocational providers. We first synthesised the literature review and interviews to develop an initial programme theory describing the contexts in which mechanisms are activated to produce EIVR outcomes. Then we used data from the survey and focus groups to further refine the EIVR programme theory. Finally, a conceptual framework was developed to support knowledge dissemination. Results By ensuring consistent messaging across the multi-disciplinary team, EIVR programmes establish and maintain hope that work is possible following injury. Conversations about work allow individuals to determine the priority of work following injury. These conversations can also improve self-efficacy by providing individualized support to envisage pathways toward RTW goals and maintain worker identity. The synthesised study findings highlight the contexts and resources required to trigger activation of these mechanisms. Conclusions EIVR key mechanisms of effect are not specific to SCI as a health condition, therefore enabling this framework to be applied to other populations who face similar impairments and return to work barriers.
 
Purpose A lack of published epidemiological data among police recruits presents a major challenge when designing appropriate prevention programs to reduce injury burden. We aimed to report the injury epidemiology of Western Australian (WA) Police Force recruits and examine sex and age as injury risk factors. Methods Retrospective analyses were conducted of prospectively collected injury data from WA Police Force recruits between 2018–2021. Injury was defined as ‘time-loss’ and injury incidence rate per 1000 training days (Poisson exact 95% confidence intervals) was calculated. For each region and type of injury, the incidence, severity, and burden were calculated. The association between age, sex, and injury occurrence were assessed using Cox regression time-to-event analysis. Results A total of 1316 WA Police Force recruits were included, of whom 264 recruits sustained 304 injuries. Injury prevalence was 20.1% and the incidence rate was 2.00 (95%CI 1.78–2.24) injuries per 1000 training days. Lower limb injuries accounted for most of the injury burden. Ligament/ joint injuries had the highest injury tissue/pathology burden. The most common activity injuring recruits was physical training (31.8% of all injuries). Older age (Hazard Ratio = 1.5, 95%CI = 1.2 to 1.9, p = 0.002) and female sex (Hazard Ratio = 1.4, 95%CI = 1.3 to 1.6, p < 0.001) increased risk of injury. Conclusion Prevention programs targeting muscle/tendon and ligament/joint injuries to the lower limb and shoulder should be prioritised to reduce the WA Police Force injury burden. Injury prevention programs should also prioritise recruits who are over 30 years of age or of female sex, given they are a higher risk population.
 
Conceptual model
Structural model
Purpose Job crafting is an incremental, employee-initiated job design process used to achieve a better fit between job demands and worker skills. Persons with work limitations face multiple barriers to optimal work performance. Some persons with work limitations may innately use job crafting as a strategy to achieve better alignment with their job tasks and demands, however the extent to which job crafting may be helpful in improving work performance and engagement is unknown. The purpose of this study is (1) to examine the moderating role of work limitations in the relationship between job crafting and work performance and (2) to understand the complex relationship between job crafting, work limitations, work engagement, work performance, readiness to change, and worker characteristics. Methods We conducted an online survey of workers with and without disabilities (final N = 742) in 2020–2021. Our sample included workers aged 18 and older. Descriptive statistics, bivariate statistics, and Partial Least Squares-Structural Equation Modeling (PLS-SEM) were used to assess the relationships among job crafting, work limitations, work engagement, work performance, readiness to change, and worker characteristics. Results Work limitation moderates the relationship between job crafting and work performance by weakening the impact of innate job crafting on work performance. Worker characteristics such as education and years of work experience predict crafting behaviors and work engagement mediates the relationship between job crafting and work performance. Conclusions Work limitation weakens the relationship between job crafting and work performance. Workers with limitations may benefit from job crafting interventions to increase work engagement and performance.
 
Background The present study assessed the role of perceived injustice in the experience and persistence of post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) following work-related musculoskeletal injury. Methods The study sample consisted of 187 individuals who were absent from work as a result of a musculoskeletal injury. Participants completed measures of pain severity, perceived injustice, catastrophic thinking, post-traumatic stress symptoms, and disability on three occasions at three-week intervals. Results Consistent with previous research, correlational analyses revealed significant cross-sectional relations between pain and PTSS, and between perceived injustice and PTSS. Regression analysis on baseline data revealed that perceived injustice contributed significant variance to the prediction of PTSS, beyond the variance accounted for by pain severity and catastrophic thinking. Sequential analyses provided support for a bi-directional relation between perceived injustice and PTSS. Cross-lagged regression analyses showed that early changes in perceived injustice predicted later changes in PTSS and early changes in PTSS predicted later changes in perceived injustice. Conclusions Possible linkages between perceived injustice and PTSS are discussed. The development of effective intervention techniques for targeting perceptions of injustice might be important for promoting recovery of PTSS consequent to musculoskeletal injury.
 
Purpose Sensibility refers to a tool’s comprehensiveness, understandability, relevance, feasibility, and length. It is used in the early development phase to begin assessing a new tool or intervention. This study examined the sensibility of the job demands and accommodation planning tool (JDAPT). The JDAPT identifies job demands related to physical, cognitive, interpersonal, and working conditions to better target strategies for workplace supports and accommodations aimed at assisting individuals with chronic health conditions. Methods Workers with a chronic health condition and workplace representatives were recruited from health charities, workplaces, and newsletters using convenience sampling. Cognitive interviews assessed the JDAPT’s sensibility. A 70% endorsement rate was the minimum level of acceptability for sensibility concepts. A short screening tool also was administered, and answers compared to the complete JDAPT. Results Participants were 46 workers and 23 organizational representatives (n = 69). Endorsements highly exceeded the 70% cut-off for understandability, relevance, and length. Congruence between screening questions and the complete JDAPT suggested both workers and organizational representatives overlooked job demands when completing the screener. Participants provided additional examples and three new items to improve comprehensiveness. The JDAPT was rated highly relevant and useful, although not always easy to complete for someone with an episodic condition. Conclusions This study highlights the need for tools that facilitate accommodations for workers with episodic disabilities and provides early evidence for the sensibility of the JDAPT.
 
Abstract Purpose: The aim of this study was to assess the efectiveness of physical activity (PA) interventions on return to work (RTW) in cancer survivors, compared to usual care, and to determine the dose of PA needed to improve this outcome. Methods: A systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted according to PRISMA guidelines. Six electronic databases including PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, CENTRAL, PsycINFO, and Scopus were searched to identify studies, and completed by a search of grey literature and health organization websites. Two authors performed screening, selection, and data extraction independently. Study and intervention characteristics were extracted and summarized. Pooled risk ratio (RR) was estimated using a weight random-efects model with 95% confdence intervals (CIs). Results : A total of 2655 records were identifed, of which 8 intervention studies were included. The sample size of the included studies varied between 41 and 240, giving a total of 1087 participants aged between 18 and 75 years. Compared with usual care, PA interventions had a signifcant positive efect on RTW among cancer survivors with a pooled RR of 1.29 (95% CI 1.17, 1.42). We found that PA interventions (aerobic and resistance exercises) with an exercise dose between 7.6 METs.h/week and 15 METs.h/week, consisting in 50–60 min per session of moderate to vigorous physical exercise, twice a week seems relevant in improving RTW. Conclusions Our results showed, with moderate quality evidence that PA interventions are more efective than usual care in increasing the rate of RTW in cancer survivors. Systematic Review Registration PROSPERO Registration Number, CRD42020203614. Keywords: Intervention · Return to work · Cancer · Physical activity · Systematic review
 
Themes and sub-themes emerged from data
Purpose This qualitative study conducted in Queensland, Australia aimed to explore various stakeholders’ perspectives on (1) the barriers and facilitators of Return to Work (RTW) for injured persons following minor to serious Road Traffic Injuries (RTI) in a fault-based scheme, and to investigate the changes needed to better support RTW following RTI. Methods The study was performed using the Interpretive Description methodological approach. Data were collected during interviews (n = 17), one focus group (n = 4), and an open-ended survey (n = 10) with five categories of stakeholders: treating health providers, workplace representatives, legal representatives, rehabilitation advisors, and insurers. Participants were eligible to participate if they had at least one year of employment history in their respective profession in Queensland, Australia, and were experienced in assisting the RTW of people with RTI. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. Results Seven themes were extracted reflecting the barriers and facilitators of RTW along with stakeholders’ recommendations to address these barriers. These themes were: (1) knowledge is power; (2) stakeholder expertise; (3) early and appropriate treatment matters; (4) insurers could do better; (5) necessity of employers’ support; (6) fix the disjointed system; (7) importance of individual factors pre- and post- injury. The main barriers identified were stakeholders’ insufficient communication and knowledge on RTW process following RTI. Conclusions Individual and system barriers identified in this study suggest that RTW after RTI occurs in a complex system requiring the commitment of all stakeholders. This is particularly important for managing knowledge-related barriers by provision of high quality and easily accessible information about the RTW process, disability schemes, and the nature of RTI.
 
Purpose To examine the impact of pre-existing anxiety and depression disorders on return to work (RTW) using a phase-based approach. Methods Accepted lost-time workers’ compensation claims for upper limb or spine strain or sprain from 2009 to 2013 were extracted for workers in the Canadian province of British Columbia (n = 78,186). Pre-existing anxiety and depression disorders were identified using health claims data. Probability of RTW following a first or second work lost-time episode was analyzed using Prentice, Williams and Peterson models for recurrent events (common hazards ratios (cHR)). Probability of a first lost-time recurrence was analyzed using Cox models (HR). All models included two years of follow up and were stratified by gender. Results For men, anxiety alone (cHR = 0.90, 95% CI: 0.85 to 0.94) or comorbid with depression (cHR = 0.95, 95% CI: 0.92 to 0.99) was significantly associated with a lower probability of RTW, and comorbid anxiety and depression with a higher probability of recurrence (HR = 1.29, 95% CI: 1.13 to 1.48). In women, comorbid anxiety and depression was significantly associated with a lower probability of RTW (cHR = 0.96, 95% CI: 0.93 to 0.99) and a higher probability of recurrence (HR = 1.15, 95% CI: 1.04 to 1.28); and anxiety alone with a higher probability of recurrence (HR = 1.25, 95% CI: 1.09 to 1.43). There was little evidence that depression alone was associated with RTW or recurrence. Conclusions Workers with a pre-existing anxiety disorder may require additional supports both during lost-time and after initial RTW.
 
Purpose This study sought to determine patterns of opioid use among workers with a compensated lower limb injury, factors associated with opioid use, and how opioid use is associated with time loss duration. Methods Claims and medication data were provided by the workers’ compensation regulator of Victoria, Australia, for claims lodged 2008–2018 from workers aged 15+ years with a lower limb injury. Descriptive statistics showed the number and prevalence of each opioid type (weak/strong) by demographic, claim and injury predictors. Binary and multinomial logistic regression determined the likelihood of any opioid use, and use of strong, weak or a combination of strong and weak opioids by predictors. Cox regression determined the effect of each opioid type on duration of time loss, controlling for predictors. Results There were 51,334 claims and of these 23.6% were dispensed opioids (9.2% for strong opioids only, 6.6% for weak opioids only and 7.8% for a combination). Weak opioids, on average, were dispensed 15 days earlier than strong opioids. Time loss claims and workers with fractures or hip injuries were most likely to be dispensed opioids. All opioids were associated with increased duration of time loss, with those dispensed both weak and strong opioids having the longest duration of time loss. Conclusions Any opioid use was associated with longer time loss duration, with increasing opioid strength having a greater effect. Review of pain management methods should be undertaken to reduce opioid use, which may have a positive impact on duration of time loss and long-term function.
 
The systems that societies construct to support work disability prevention can have powerful effects on both the experiences of people with work disability as well as their health and employment outcomes. Comparative studies between jurisdictions provide an opportunity to gain insights into these system level impacts, by comparing system features, processes and experiences; and by determining if jurisdictional variation affects outcomes. In turn, this can prompt policy and practice reform. Reflecting the diversity of work disability systems globally, there is growing interest in cross-jurisdiction comparative research in the field. This special series presents seven articles addressing important methodological and conceptual aspects of comparative research in work disability prevention, and presents practical examples of how jurisdictions vary and the impact this can have on workers.
 
Draft model
Generic CCC model for LP
Comprehensive CCC model for LP of persons with a chronic disease, including subfactors
Purpose To design a model based on the three pillars of new institutional theory (NIT), that facilitates cross-country comparison of labor participation (LP) of people with chronic diseases. This model should support getting a comprehensive overview of factors representing country differences, understanding these differences and should support estimating cross-country transferability of policies and interventions in the context of Work Disability Prevention. Methods Based on NIT, a draft model was designed by means of (1) a literature review of empirical studies; (2) theoretical books and articles; (3) a focus group with six expert researchers. This draft model was (4) adapted in the context of academic education. Literature was searched on Web of Science and EBSCO host. Feedback on (use of) the model was received from the focus group, four different academic courses at 28 occasions and two international conferences. Results The cross-country comparison model for labor participation (CCC model for LP) of persons with chronic diseases is proposed consisting of five factors: (1) Legislation; (2) Norms & values in practice; (3) Culture; (4) Organization of WDP in practice; (5) Labor market characteristics. Within these factors and based on (in)direct empirical evidence, subfactors are distinguished. The feedback received led to renaming (sub) factors, improved visual representation and a tool for estimating transferability. Conclusions The CCC model for LP of persons with chronic diseases allows for a comprehensive understanding of country differences and cross-country transferability of policies and interventions. The CCC model can be used for other populations when population-specific subfactors are included.
 
Model interface, showing all model features, policy levers, inputs, charts and monitors
Introduction The direct comparison of real-world workers’ compensation scheme management policies and their impact on aspects of scheme performance such as health and return to work outcomes, financial sustainability, and client experience metrics is made difficult through existing differences in scheme design that go beyond the factors of interest to the researcher or policymaker. Disentangling effects that are due purely to the result of policy and structural differences between schemes or jurisdictions to determine ‘what works’ can be difficult. Method We present a prototype policy exploration tool, ‘WorkSim’, built using an agent-based model and designed to enable workers’ compensation system managers to directly compare the effect of simulated policies on the performance of workers compensation systems constructed using agreed and transparent principles. Results The utility of the model is demonstrated through and case-study comparison of overall scheme performance metrics across 6 simple policy scenarios. Discussion Policy simulation models of the nature described can be useful tools for managers of workplace compensation and rehabilitation schemes for trialing policy and management options ahead of their real-world implementation.
 
A framework describing system, worker and workplace factors that influence health care spending and utilization and their relationship with return-to-work outcomes
Introduction Differences in disability duration after work injury have been observed across jurisdictions, regions and urban and rural settings. A key aspect of effective disability management is the access and utilization of appropriate and high quality health care. This paper presents a framework for analyzing and thus understanding how health service spending and utilization vary across and within work disability management schemes and affect work disability management. Methods Our framework was developed through a literature review and policy analysis. Existing frameworks describing geographic variation in general health care systems identified factors believed to drive that variation. A review of policy and practice documents from Canada’s no-fault cause-based work disability management system identified factors relevant to work disability systems. Results We expand on previous frameworks by taking a systems approach that centers on factors relevant to the work disability management system. We further highlight predisposing, enabling, workplace environment and need-based factors that could lead to variation in health care spending and utilization across and within jurisdictions. These factors are described as shaping the interactions between workers, health care providers, employers and work disability management system actors, and influencing work disability management health and employment outcomes. Conclusion Our systems-focused approach offers a guide for researchers and policymakers to analyze how various factors may influence spending and utilization across regions and to identify areas for improvement in health care delivery within work disability management systems. Next steps include testing the framework in an analysis looking at geographic variation in spending and utilization across and within Canadian work disability management systems.
 
Purpose: The objective of this study was to explore how workers' compensation policies related to healthcare provision for workers with musculoskeletal injuries can affect the delivery and trajectories of care for injured workers. The principal research question was: What are the different ways in which workers' compensation (WC) policies inform and transform the practices of healthcare providers (HCPs) caring for injured workers? Methods: We conducted a cross-jurisdictional policy analysis. We conducted qualitative interviews with 42 key informants from a variety of perspectives in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec in Canada, the state of Victoria in Australia and the state of Washington in the United States. The main methodological approach was Framework Analysis. Results: We identified two main themes: (1) Shaping HCPs' clinical practices and behaviors with injured workers. In this theme, we illustrate how clinical practice guidelines and non-economic and economic incentives were used by WCs to drive HCP's behaviours with workers; (2) Controlling workers' trajectories of care. This theme presents how WC policies achieve control of the workers' trajectory of care via different policy mechanisms, namely the standardization of care pathways and the power and autonomy vested in HCPs. Conclusions: This policy analysis shed light on the different ways in which WC policies shape HCP's day-to-day practices and workers' trajectories. A better understanding and a nuanced portrait of these policies' impacts can help support reflections on future policy changes and inform policy development in other jurisdictions.
 
Percent of claims by firm size and study jurisdiction. BC British Columbia, AB Alberta, SK Saskatchewan, MB Manitoba, ON Ontario, WA Western Australia, NT Northern Territory, VIC Victoria, TAS Tasmania, ACT Australian Capital Territory, FTE Full-time equivalent
Plotted estimates from fully-adjusted quantile regression models of cumulative disability days paid at the 25th, 50th and 75th percentiles of the disability distribution, by study jurisdiction. FTE full-time equivalent
Purpose To identify whether there were differences in work disability duration between injured workers employed by small, medium, large, and self-insured firms and whether these differences varied between workers’ compensation jurisdictions in Canada and Australia. Methods Workers’ compensation data were used to identify comparable lost-time, work-related injury and musculoskeletal disorder claims in five Canadian and five Australian jurisdictions between 2011 and 2015. Work disability duration was measured using cumulative disability days paid up to one-year post-injury. Jurisdiction-specific quantile regression models were used to estimate differences in cumulative disability days paid to claims from small (< 20 full-time equivalents (FTEs)) medium (20–199 FTEs), large (200 + FTEs) and self-insured firms at the 25th, 50th, and 70th percentiles in the disability distribution, adjusting for confounders. Results Compared to large firms, workers in small firms generally had longer work disability duration at each percentile, particularly in Saskatchewan and Alberta (Canada), Victoria and Australian Capital Territory (Australia), where an additional 31.1, 18.4, 58.5 and 37.0 days were paid at the 75th percentiles, respectively. The disability duration of workers from self-insured firms was longer than large firms in all Canadian jurisdictions but was shorter or no different in Australian jurisdictions. Smaller differences were observed between claims from large and medium-sized firms. Conclusions Workers in small firms had longer work disability duration than those in large firms in all but one of the study jurisdictions. Claims management processes need to be sensitive to the challenges that small firms face in accommodating and returning injured workers back to work.
 
Number of GP services for each low back pain claim, by cohort
Purpose: To compare the frequency of General Practitioner (GP) services and the time between first and last GP services (service duration) provided to workers with low back pain (LBP) between four Australian workers' compensation jurisdictions. Methods: Retrospective cohort study using service level data collated from the Australian states of Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and Queensland. Negative binomial regression was used to compare GP service volume between jurisdictions in workers with accepted LBP compensation claims. Quantile regression was used to compare GP service duration. Models were adjusted for sociodemographic factors and occupation. Analyses were repeated in four cohorts with progressively more restrictive cohort definitions to account for the influence of jurisdictional policy variation in employer excess, service delivery and maximum time-loss benefit duration. Results: The study sample included 47,185 time-loss claims accepted between July 2010 and June 2015, that were linked with 452,391 GP services. Workers with LBP in Queensland recorded significantly fewer GP services funded and recorded significantly shorter average service duration than in other states. This pattern of jurisdictional variation was evident in all four cohorts, but was attenuated when cohorts excluded short- and long duration claims. In the final, most restricted cohort statistically significant adjusted incidence rate ratios of 1.47-1.60 were observed in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, while these states recorded additional service duration of 4.3-20.7 weeks at the median. Conclusion: There is significant variation in provision of GP services to injured workers with LBP between four Australian workers' compensation jurisdictions. Administrative requirements for time-based provision of work capacity certificates by medical practitioners may be contributing to service variation.
 
Factors influencing stay at work after a period of disability
Purpose Rooted in a social exchange lens, this study aimed to explore the interactions between the factors influencing stay at work after a period of disability due to an occupational injury. Methods Based on a descriptive interpretative research design, interviews with 15 participants (i.e., representatives of workers, workplaces, insurers, and the health care system) were conducted to gather their perspectives about stay at work. Qualitative data was analyzed through thematic analysis. Results Ten different factors interacting together and influencing stay at work were identified. These factors prevail either during stay at work or previously. They are either related to the person (personal resources, occupation outside of work), environment (accommodations, support, access to rehabilitation services) or interaction between the person and her/his environment (perceptions, leeway, communication and information), whether it concerns the workplace, health services or insurance. Conclusions This study contributes to the advancement of knowledge concerning two main themes: (1) the importance of considering social exchanges as factors of success, and (2) the importance of considering the stay at work within a larger process.
 
Flow of the participants
Results indicating how theoretical changes in the composition of work and leisure time spent on physical behaviors may influence LTSA risk among employees with (n = 406) and without LBP (n = 519). Results shown correspond to the one-to-remaining reallocation method: new theoretical compositions were created from the reference (mean) composition where the time in each physical behavior was theoretically increased/decreased by decreasing/increasing the time in the remaining behaviors, keeping the total domain time constant. Zero on the x-axis indicates reference composition (in minutes) of work (sedentary = 166, standing = 138, LIPA = 79, and MVPA = 63) and leisure (sedentary = 316, standing = 82, LIPA = 43, MVPA = 32 and, time in bed = 426). Number ‘1.0’ on y-axis represents unchanged LTSA risk corresponding to reference (mean) composition; hazard ratio indicates the difference between risk associated with the new composition and the reference composition; *indicates significant association at p ≤ 0.05 while ** indicates significant association at p ≤ 0.01. LBP low back pain, LIPA light intensity physical activity, MVPA moderate-to-vigorous physical activity
Theoratical results of the one-to-one reallocation method indicating the difference in LTSA risk corresponding to theoretically incrementally increasing/decreasing time between MVPA and LIPA at work and between MVPA and stand during leisure. The pie charts represent specific new theoretical work and leisure time compositions while the x axis represents the difference in LTSA risk (as HR) and its 95% confidence interval. LIPA light physical activity, MVPA moderate-to-vigorous physical activity
Purpose We lack knowledge on whether the advice of “being physically active” should be the same for prevention and rehabilitation of low back pain (LBP). Sickness absence is a key outcome for LBP prevention and rehabilitation. We investigated the associations between physical activity and long-term sickness absence (LTSA) among employees with and without LBP. Methods Between 2011 and 2013, 925 Danish employees wore a Actigraph GTX3 accelerometer for 1–5 workdays to measure physical activity and reported LBP in past 7 days. Employees were followed for 4 years to determine their first register-based LTSA event (≥ 6 consecutive weeks). Results Among employees with LBP, increasing moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity at work by 20 min and decreasing the remaining behaviors at work (ie., sitting, standing and light-intensity activity) by 20 min was associated with 38% (95% CI 17%; 63%) higher LTSA risk. Increasing light-intensity activity at work by 20 min and decreasing 20 min from the remaining behaviors was associated with 18% (95% CI 4%; 30%) lower risk. During leisure, increasing moderate-to-vigorous-intensity activity by 20 min or standing by 40 min was associated with 26% (95% CI 3%; 43%) lower and 37% (95% CI 0%; 87%) higher risk, respectively. Among employees without LBP, we found no such associations. Conclusions The physical activity advice ought to be different for LBP prevention and rehabilitation to reduce LTSA risk, and specified by domain and activity intensity. At work, employees with LBP should be advised to spend time on light-intensity physical activity and limit their time on moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity. During leisure, employees should spend time on moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity.
 
Illustration of the MI-NAV study. The black boxes describe the stratified vocational advice intervention (SVAI). NAV Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration, MI motivational interviewing, RTW return to work
Timeline for recruitment and data collection in the MI-NAV Study
Purpose To perform a process evaluation of a stratified vocational advice intervention (SVAI), delivered by physiotherapists in primary care, for people on sick leave with musculoskeletal disorders participating in a randomised controlled trial. The research questions concerned how the SVAI was delivered, the content of the SVAI and the physiotherapists’ experiences from delivering the SVAI. Methods We used qualitative and quantitative data from 148 intervention logs documenting the follow-up provided to each participant, recordings of 18 intervention sessions and minutes from 20 meetings with the physiotherapists. The log data were analysed with descriptive statistics. A qualitative content analysis was performed of the recordings, and we identified facilitators and barriers for implementation from the minutes. Results Of 170 participants randomised to the SVAI 152 (89%) received the intervention and 148 logs were completed. According to the logs, 131 participants received the correct number of sessions (all by telephone) and 146 action plans were developed. The physiotherapists did not attend any workplace meetings but contacted stakeholders in 37 cases. The main themes from the recorded sessions were: ‘symptom burden’, ‘managing symptoms’, ‘relations with the workplace’ and ‘fear of not being able to manage work’. The physiotherapists felt they were able to build rapport with most participants. However, case management was hindered by the restricted number of sessions permitted according to the protocol. Conclusion Overall, the SVAI was delivered in accordance with the protocol and is therefore likely to be implementable in primary care if it is effective in reducing sick leave.
 
Flowchart study enrolment and follow-up
a Kaplan–Meier curve—cumulative percentage of RTW of the total group (TKA and THA). b Kaplan–Meier curve—cumulative percentage of RTW of the subgroups TKA and THA
Purpose Both personal and work-related factors affect return to work (RTW) after total knee arthroplasty (TKA) and total hip arthroplasty (THA). Little is known about work-related factors associated with the recovery process. This study aimed to determine which work-related factors are associated with time to RTW for both TKA and THA patients. Methods A prospective multicenter survey study was conducted that included patients aged 18–63, had a paid job and were scheduled to undergo primary TKA/THA. Surveys were completed preoperatively, 6 weeks, and 3, 6, and 12 months postoperatively, and included four domains of work-related factors: work characteristics, physical working conditions, psychosocial working conditions and work adjustments. Control variables included age, sex, education, and comorbidity. Time to RTW was defined as days from surgery until RTW. Multivariate linear regression analyses were conducted separately for TKA/THA patients. Results Enrolled were 246 patients (n = 146 TKA, n = 100 THA, median age 56 years, 57% female). Median time to RTW was 79 days (IQR 52.0–146.0). Mainly physical tasks (TKA: B 58.2, 95%CI 9.5–106.8; THA: B 52.1, 95%CI 14.1–90.2) and a combination of physical and mental tasks (TKA: B 50.2, 95%CI 6.4–94.0; THA B 54.0, 95%CI 24.2–83.7) were associated with longer time to RTW after both TKA and THA. More possibilities for personal job development (B − 12.8, 95%CI − 25.3–0.4) and more work recognition (B − 13.2, 95%CI − 25.5 to − 0.9) were significantly associated with shorter time to RTW after TKA. Higher quality of supervisor leadership (B − 14.1, 95%CI − 22.2 to − 6.0) was significantly associated with shorter time to RTW after THA. Conclusion The findings of this study stress the importance of psychosocial working conditions, besides type of job tasks, in RTW after TKA/THA. Further research on work-related factors is needed, as arthroplasty is being performed on an increasingly younger population of knee and hip OA patients for whom participating in work is of critical importance.
 
Purpose Although common mental disorders (CMDs) highly impact individuals and society, a knowledge gap exists on how sickness absence can be prevented in workers with CMDs. This study explores: (1) workers’ perceived causes of sickness absence; (2) perceived return to work (RTW) barriers and facilitators; and (3) differences between workers with short, medium and long-term sickness absence. Methods A longitudinal qualitative study was conducted involving 34 workers with CMDs. Semi-structured interviews were held at two time-points during their RTW process. The 68 interviews were audio-taped, transcribed and thematically analyzed to explore workers’ perspective on sickness absence causes, RTW barriers and facilitators, and compare data across the three sub-groups of workers. Results Workers reported various causes for their absence, including: (1) high work pressure; (2) poor work relationships; (3) unhelpful thoughts and feelings, e.g. lacking self-insight; and (4) ineffective coping behaviors. According to workers, RTW was facilitated by work adjustments, fulfilling relationships with supervisors, and adequate occupational health guidance. Workers with short-term leave more often reported favorable work conditions, and proactive coping behavior. In contrast, the long-term group reported reactive coping behavior and dissatisfaction with their work. Conclusion Supporting workers with CMDs in gaining self-awareness and regaining control, discussing the value of their work, and creating work conditions that enable workers to do valuable work, seem central for successful RTW and might prevent sickness absence. Supervisors play a key role in enabling workers to do valuable work and further research should focus on how supervisors can be supported in this task.
 
Depicting the 4 identified trajectories of vocational recovery (VR) and the sample average VR
PurposeTo investigate longitudinal trajectories of vocational recovery (VR) among individuals with severe mental illness (SMI) who participated in the Danish Individual Placement and Support (IPS) trial, and whether the IPS intervention, socio-demographic and disease-specific characteristics predicted trajectory membership.Methods In an observational study design, we used previously collected data from the Danish IPS trial (N = 720). VR was defined as ‘weeks in competitive employment or education in the past 6 months and was measured after 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2 and 2.5 years, using data from the Danish Register for Evaluation of Marginalization (DREAM) database. Latent growth mixture modelling in Mplus statistical software (version 7) was applied to identify trajectories of VR. Multinomial logistic regression analyses were used to estimate predictors for trajectory membership.ResultsFour trajectories were identified: ‘Low VR’ (61.3%), ‘Low Increasing VR (8.2%), ‘Increasing Decreasing VR’ (7.2%) and ‘High VR’ (23.4%). Receiving the IPS intervention increased odds of membership in ‘High VR’ compared to ‘Low VR’ (OR = 2.18; 95% CI 1.37–3.48) and so did higher education (OR = 2.25; 95% CI 1.39–3.64), higher cognitive function (OR = 1.17; 95% CI 1.02–1.35), higher motivation to change (OR = 1.04; 95% CI 1.02–1.05) and previous work history (OR = 1.64; 95% CI 1.09–2.46). Higher age decreased odds of membership in the ‘High VR’ (OR = 0.95; 95% CI 0.93–0.98) compared to ‘Low VR’.Conclusion There was high heterogeneity in the identified VR trajectories, despite that all participants expressed a desire for work and education at baseline. Improvements of the IPS intervention are needed to support specific groups in achieving and retaining employment.
 
Illustration of collider bias; the plot on the left shows no relationship between beauty and talent in the general population (p = 0.203), while the plot on the right shows a strong inverse relationship when limited to a random weighted sample of those in the top quarter of the sum of beauty and talent (p < 0.001), a proxy for Hollywood success
Association between height and points per game among National Basketball Association(NBA) players in the 2018–19 regular season [6]
Association between claim rate and disability duration, unnested and nested by state and territory
Survival curves of simulated compensation systems, both uncensored and censored at two weeks; System A has a mean of 0.5 weeks (standard deviation: 0.9 weeks) and System B a mean of 1 week (standard deviation: 0.6 weeks) on a log scale
PurposeWorkers’ compensation claims consist of occupational injuries severe enough to meet a compensability threshold. Theoretically, systems with higher thresholds should have fewer claims but greater average severity. For research that relies on claims data, particularly cross-jurisdictional comparisons of compensation systems, this results in collider bias that can lead to spurious associations confounding analyses. In this study, I use real and simulated claims data to demonstrate collider bias and problems with methods used to account for it.Methods Using Australian claims data, I used a linear regression to test the association between claim rate and mean disability durations across Statistical Areas. Analyses were repeated with nesting by state/territory to account for variations in compensability thresholds across compensation systems. Both analyses are repeated on left-censored data. Simulated claims data are analysed with Cox survival analyses to illustrate how left-censoring can reverse effects.ResultsThe claim rate within a Statistical Area was inversely associated with disability duration. However, this reversed when Statistical Areas were nested by state/territory. Left-censoring resulted in an attenuation of the unnested association to non-significance, while the nested association remained significantly positive. Cox regressions with simulated claims data demonstrated how left-censoring can reverse effects.Conclusions Collider bias can seriously confound work disability research, particularly cross-jurisdictional comparisons. Work disability researchers must grapple with this challenge by using appropriate study designs and analytical approaches, and considering how it affects the interpretation of results.
 
Adjusted Cox survival curves for disability duration by state/territory of residence (regional), insurer type, age group, and injury type; reference groups are in black
Comparison of effect magnitudes between current study and previous system comparison study
Purpose Time off work after workplace injury varies by compensation system. While often attributed to features of the compensation system, unaccounted regional factors may drive much of the effect. In this study, we compare disability durations by state and territory of residence within a single national workers' compensation system. Large differences would indicate that factors other than compensation system settings are responsible for system effects observed in previous studies. Methods We applied crude and adjusted Cox proportional hazards models to compare disability durations by state and territory of residence. Confounders included factors known to influence disability duration. Durations were left-censored at two weeks and right-censored at 104 weeks. Results We analysed N = 31,641 claims. In both crude and adjusted models, three of the seven states and territories significantly differed from the reference group, New South Wales. However, two of the three were different between crude and adjusted models. Regional effects were relatively small compared to other factors including insurer type, age, and type of injury. Conclusions Regional factors influence disability duration, which persist with adjustment for demographic, work, insurer type, and injury confounders. However, the effects are inconsistently significant and fairly small, especially when compared to the effect of confounders and system effects found in previous studies. Regional factors likely only account for a small share of the difference in disability duration between compensation systems.
 
Hierarchical tree of article selection
Purpose This article provides a state-of-the-art review of issues and factors associated with the sustainable return to work (S-RTW) of ethnocultural minority workers experiencing disability situations attributable to one of four major causes: musculoskeletal disorders, common mental disorders, other chronic diseases or cancer. Methods Using an interpretive description method, an integrative review was conducted of the literature on ethnocultural factors influencing S-RTW issues and factors associated with these four major work-disability causes. An initial review of the 2006–2016 literature was subsequently updated for November 2016–May 2021. To explore and contextualize the results, four focus groups were held with RTW stakeholders representing workplaces, insurers, the healthcare system and workers. Qualitative thematic analysis was performed. Results A total of 56 articles were analyzed and 35 stakeholders participated in four focus groups. Two main findings emerged. First, belonging to an ethnocultural minority group appears associated with cumulative risk factors that may contribute to vulnerability situations and compound the complexity of S-RTW. Second, cultural differences with respect to the prevailing host-country culture may generate communication and trust issues, and conflicts in values and representations, in turn possibly hindering the establishment of positive relationships among all stakeholders and the ability to meet workers’ needs. Being a woman in these groups and/or having a lower level of integration into the host country’s culture also appear associated with greater S-RTW challenges. Conclusions Based on our findings, we recommend several possible strategies, such as the cultural humility model, for preventing differences from exacerbating the already significant vulnerability situation of some ethnocultural minority workers.
 
Purpose Common mental disorders have a severe impact on society and individuals; rates of unemployment and disability pensions are high. Knowing which factors facilitate or hinder people’s return to work is important when designing effective vocational rehabilitation interventions. Methods We conducted secondary analyses on data from 289 participants with depression or anxiety included in the Individual Placement and Support modified for people with mood and anxiety disorders (IPS-MA) trial. Associations of baseline characteristics and employment or education after 24 months were tested in univariate logistic regression analyses, variables with a p-value below 0.1 were included in multivariate analyses. Results In the univariate analyses, self-reported level of functioning (p = 0.032), higher age (p = 0.070), and higher level of readiness to change (p = 0.001) were associated with the outcome and included in the multivariate analysis. Only age (p = 0.030) and readiness to change (p = 0.003) remained significantly associated with return to work or education after 24 months in the multivariate analysis. Conclusion Higher age and lower readiness to change were associated with a lower chance of having returned to work or education. Factors modifying the effect of higher age should be identified, just as vocational rehabilitation should focus on improving factors related to people’s readiness to change.
 
Factors influencing the process of rehabilitation, return, and stay at work of aging workers who had suffered an occupational injury
Purpose: This study aims to paint a picture of the factors that influence the process of rehabilitation, return, and stay at work, for aging workers who have suffered an occupational injury. Methods: Based on a descriptive interpretative research design, the authors conducted interviews with 23 participants (i.e., aging workers, workers' representatives, employers, insurers, and rehabilitation professionals) to gather their perspectives. Qualitative data was analyzed through thematic analysis. Results: Fifteen factors related to the worker, health system, workplace, or compensation system were identified. These factors prevail during rehabilitation, return to work, stay at work, or the entire process. Conclusions: This study contributes to the advancement of knowledge regarding three main ideas: (1) the importance of not placing the responsibility on the worker in this complex process, (2) the key role of the compensation system, and (3) the necessity of transforming work to reduce ageism.
 
Care pathway of work-related support in clinical care
Background Patients with a chronic disease are more vulnerable in the labor market, and work-related support in clinical care would enhance the timely support greatly needed in each phase of their working life. This paper describes the development of a generic stay-at-work intervention to provide work-related support in clinical care to patients with a chronic disease. Methods Steps 1–4 of Intervention Mapping (IM) were combined with action research principles. A needs assessment (Step 1) involved the project group formation, a literature review, qualitative studies with healthcare professionals (HCPs; n = 9) and patients (n = 10), consultation with financial staff and testing, and resulted in objectives (Step 2). Guided by methods and applications (Step 3), the intervention was developed, tested and finalized (Step 4). Results The needs assessment revealed the importance of behavioral change in HCPs, including changing attitude, self-efficacy, and social influence. For that purpose, a pathway and training sessions were developed. Testing these unveiled the need for practical tools and intervision. The final intervention comprises a care pathway as part of working routines, including screening, risk stratification, and tailored support. Practical tools, training sessions, and intervision for HCPs were developed. Conclusions Combining IM with action research principles resulted in a generic stay-at-work intervention in clinical care via behavioral change in HCPs. A generic care pathway, practical tools, training sessions, and intervision were developed. More specific alignment to specific patient groups is possible. To implement the intervention in another hospital, the local context, (financial) resources, and the national legislation should be considered.
 
Purpose This study aimed to investigate the relationships between demographic covariates, vocational rehabilitation (VR) services, and employment outcomes of individuals with anxiety disorders. The specific research question for the current study investigate demographic variables and vocational rehabilitation services as predictors of competitive employment outcomes. Methods Data for the present study were extracted from the most recent United States Rehabilitation Service Administration 2018 Case Service Report (RSA-911) data. A purposeful selection, multivariate logistic regression analysis was conducted to examine the case service report data of 9266 individuals with anxiety disorders who received vocational rehabilitation services based on their demographic variables and receipt of VR services. Results The results indicated that African Americans and Latinx, people who have completed high school or more, people who do not receive disability-related benefits, and those who received more vocational rehabilitation services were more likely to be gainfully employed. In addition, receipt of financial support for life crises and occupational credentials (i.e., other services and maintenance services) and vocational rehabilitation counseling and guidance services were significant predictors of employment outcomes. Conversely, receipt of supported employment and transition services were negatively associated with employment outcome. Conclusions In the present study, we identified VR services that can improve and risk factors that can impede employment outcomes of people with anxiety disorders. We also identified medical, psychosocial, and vocational interventions that can lessen the effect of anxiety disorders on physical and mental health functioning.
 
PRISMA Diagram of search strategy
Purpose Traditional approaches to vocational rehabilitation tend to focus on improving worker skills and competencies rather than addressing barriers and inequities in existing workplace structures. The purpose of this scoping review is to provide an overview of current demand-side employment interventions that are aimed at building inclusive hiring and retention practices for persons living with common mental disorders (CMD). Methods Using the method advanced by Arksey and O’Malley (2005), and furthered by Levac et al., (2010), we carried out a scoping review to identify the range and breadth of literature exploring demand-side employment interventions for individuals with CMD. One rater screened titles and abstracts and two independent raters evaluated full-text articles against a set of inclusion/exclusion criteria. A descriptive analysis was conducted to highlight the state of the literature in this area. Results A total of 10 articles were retrieved, including six empirical papers and four theoretical papers. Three broad themes were extracted from the literature: (1) Workplaces as a determinant of worker health; (2) Unique interventions are needed for different work sectors; and (3) Individualistic perspectives embedded in demand-side interventions. Conclusions Demand-side employment interventions hold promise for building employer capacity to hire and retain people with CMD. There is a need for innovative approaches to engage workplace stakeholders in developing and evaluating innovative solutions to build inclusive workplaces.
 
Purpose Stress-related illnesses are prevalent in Western society, causing sick leave and putting a heavy economic burden on employers and society. For Dutch employers it is particularly relevant to have insight into the costs of absenteeism due to stress-related illness, as they are legally obligated to continue payment of wages. Therefore, this study assessed the duration and costs of an episode of sick leave due to stress-related illness for Dutch employers. Methods Data on sick leave due to various stress-related illnesses were obtained from a nationwide occupational health service database. Stress-related illnesses included tension complaints, burn-out, overexertion, and other reactions to stress. The duration per sick leave episode was estimated in working days, after which the average cost per sick leave period was estimated using age- and gender-specific price weights. Results During the study period, 16,676 employees took 17,338 episodes of sick leave due to stress-related illness. On average, one episode of sick leave lasted 101 working days, for which the costs for the employer were on average €19,151 per worker. Women were responsible for most episodes of sick leave and were on average 37 days more absent per episode compared to men. Moreover, of all kinds of stress-related illnesses, burn-out had the longest duration of sick leave with 313 calendar days and 163 working days, resulting in an average cost of €30,770. Conclusions Sick leave due to stress-related illness places a heavy burden on employers and thus society. Further research should be conducted on how to reduce this burden.
 
Prisma flow diagram
Primary care physicians are uniquely positioned to assist ill and injured workers to stay-at-work or to return-to-work. Purpose The purpose of this scoping review is to identify primary care physicians’ learning needs in returning ill or injured workers to work and to identify gaps to guide future research. Methods We used established methodologies developed by Arksey and O’Malley, Cochrane and adapted by the Systematic Review Program at the Institute for Work & Health. We used Distiller SR©, an online systematic review software to screen for relevance and perform data extraction. We followed the PRISMA for Scoping Reviews checklist for reporting. Results We screened 2106 titles and abstracts, 375 full-text papers for relevance and included 44 studies for qualitative synthesis. The first learning need was related to administrative tasks. These included (1) appropriate record-keeping, (2) time management to review occupational information, (3) communication skills to provide clear, sufficient and relevant factual information, (4) coordination of services between different stakeholders, and (5) collaboration within teams and between different professions. The second learning need was related to attitudes and beliefs and included intrinsic biases, self-confidence, role clarity and culture of blaming the patient. The third learning need was related to specific knowledge and included work capacity assessments and needs for sick leave, environmental exposures, disclosure of information, prognosis of certain conditions and care to certain groups such as adolescents and pregnant workers. The fourth learning need was related to awareness of services and tools. Conclusions There are many opportunities to improve medical education for physicians in training or in continuing medical education to improve care for workers with an illness or injury that affect their work.
 
Donebedian's structure-process-outcome framework
Experience of YBEAT program using Donebedian’s structure-process-outcome model
Purpose The objectives of this study were to gain an understanding of the experiences of youths with mental health conditions who have undergone a 16-week supported employment program (SEP) conducted in an urban centre in Canada. Methods Focus groups and individual semi-structured interviews were used to capture the experience of youths who had completed the program. Youths were eligible if they were aged 19 to 30 years diagnosed with a mental illness and enrolled in the program. Purposeful sampling was used to recruit participants. Thematic analysis was conducted to analyze the data. Primary codes were organized and mapped onto Donebedian’s Structure-Process-Outcome Model. Results Altogether, 34 participants, aged 17 to 30 years old, described their experiences participating in this 16-week supported employment program. Participants’ experiences of this program and with employment were categorized into four main themes focusing on the (1) structure of program, (2) process of care (3) outcomes of program, and (4) improvements to the program. Conclusion Overall, the experience of a supported employment program was perceived as valuable, with unexpected benefits of the program beyond employment including the establishment of routine, friendship, and self-confidence. The proposed model can be used as a structure for monitoring and evaluating SEP.
 
PRISMA diagram of the literature search
Knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes pertaining to category #1: Understanding and interacting with patients who are workers
Knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes pertaining to category #2: Planning rehabilitation with other stakeholders
Knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes pertaining to category #3: Reaching out to the workplace
Purpose The aim of this scoping review was to synthesize the literature addressing the competencies that physiotherapists in a clinical setting need to facilitate the rehabilitation, work participation, and return to work of workers with musculoskeletal disorders. Methods We conducted a scoping review in accordance with Arksey & O’Malley’s five-step method. The following categories of keywords were used during searches in Embase, Medline and CINAHL in May 2020: (1) physiotherapy/physical therapy; (2) return to work, work participation or occupational health; and (3) education/professional competencies/guidelines. Two authors reviewed the full-text papers and agreed on the selection of articles for inclusion. The selected articles were then charted in an Excel grid and descriptively analyzed. Results Three main categories of competencies were identified: (1) Understanding and interacting with patients who are workers; (2) Planning rehabilitation with other stakeholders; and (3) Reaching out to the workplace. The fourth category named “Obstacles to the development of work-related competencies”, regroups several obstacles that were identified as potentially impeding the development of work-related competencies by physiotherapists. Conclusion The findings of this scoping review inform physiotherapy clinicians, educators and regulators on the specific knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes that appear to play a role in facilitating the rehabilitation of workers with musculoskeletal disorders. We trust that this study will lead to new initiatives that will define, implement and evaluate the effectiveness of these competencies in practice, along with rekindling the discussions about the place of work rehabilitation in the physiotherapy profession.
 
Flowchart of the study design
Progression of study and study population during intervention
Purpose In order to support people with low back pain (LBP) to stay at work, work arrangements are regarded important. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a workplace intervention using a participatory approach on work disability of workers with ongoing or recurrent LBP. Methods A total of 107 workers with LBP, with duration of pain for at least two consecutive weeks or recurrent pain of any duration during the last year, were randomized either to the intervention (n = 51) or control group (n = 56). The intervention included arrangements at the workplace, along with individual guidance provided by an occupational physiotherapist (OPT). The randomized intervention study used standard counselling and guidance by an OPT without workplace intervention as a comparison. Surveys were completed at baseline, and 6 and 12 months after baseline. Results There were no statistically significant differences between the intervention and control groups on the primary outcome measure, i.e. self-assessed work ability. We found no between-group differences in perceived health, self-assessed work productivity, number of sickness absence days and severity of back pain. However, there were significant positive within-group changes in the intervention group in the intensity of LBP, perceived health and the number of sickness absence days due to LBP. Conclusion Workplace arrangements are feasible using participatory ergonomics, but more quantitative and qualitative research is needed on its utilization and effectiveness among workers with LBP.
 
The assessment of importance of the ICF’s (International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health) first-level chapters of the Body Functions, Activity and Participation, and Environmental factors, assessed before the focus groups (not, quite, and very important through the provisional Core Set) and prioritized during the focus groups by the cancer survivors (CSs). The figure represents the final analysis of the data that combined the assessment of the provisional Core Set by the CSs and the analysis of the focus group framework. A comparison was made to describe any changes of judgement before the focus groups and after the focus groups. The interpretation of the data is qualitative: changes in importance pre- and after focus groups can be appreciated by comparing the grey line (very important according to judgements before focus groups) and yellow line (the importance attributed by CSs during focus groups). Fifteen CSs assessed the provisional Core Set
Purpose The Core Set for Vocational Rehabilitation (CS-VR) of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) describes the work functioning of individuals in need of VR. We aimed to adapt the CS-VR from the perspective of cancer survivors (CSs) and stakeholders, developing a CS-VR-Onco. Methods We held five focus groups with 17 CSs who were employed at the time of diagnosis, to discuss their work reintegration experiences. After analyzing the focus group conversations, the CS-VR-Onco was developed. During a group interview, eleven stakeholders explored barriers/facilitations in assessing the work functioning of CSs by using the CS-VR-Onco. We applied the framework method and thematic analysis. Results For the focus groups, the CS-VR-Onco of 85 categories emerged, and the ICF chapters of Mental functions, Exercise and tolerance functions, Interpersonal interactions and relationships, Major life areas, General tasks and demands, Mobility, Support and relationships, and Attitudes were prioritized. For the group interview, stakeholders’ perspectives can be synthetized into two themes: close to the lived experience and usability criteria. Stakeholders confirmed the categories of the CS-VR-Onco, a checklist that should be used through an integrated approach across multiple disciplines. Conclusions The adapted CS-VR-Onco reflects the CSs’ lived experiences of work reintegration and the factors that have influenced this process. The CS-VR-Onco was described as complete and usable through an integrated approach.
 
Purpose Understanding of the capacity to work among employees with common mental disorders (CMDs) is important, but contemporary knowledge on this issue lacks the managers’ perspective. The aim of this study was to explore and describe managers’ experience-based understanding of capacity to work in employees with CMD. Methods A qualitative focus group study was designed. Managers with experience in supporting employees with CMD were recruited via organizations and networks. Eight focus group interviews with 31 participants took place. Results The analysis resulted in five categories. (1) Capacity to mentally focus on work tasks decreases or disappears, with negative consequences for work output. (2) Capacity to commit to continuous and coherent task changes, making tasks that span longer periods of time difficult. (3) Capacity to independently adapt to the needs of the situation decreases, and employees need more guidance and instructions than usual. (4) Capacity to keep up professional appearances is reduced, and the employees struggle with the professional role. (5) Ability to interact socially and professionally decreases, which potentially causes conflicts at the workplace. Conclusions This study adds managers’ perspective to the increasing knowledge on how capacity to work is influenced by CMDs. Managers understand CMDs in employees as changed, reducing the capacities needed for occupational functioning. A deeper understanding of reduced capacity to work is needed to adapt workplaces, and our findings can facilitate work accommodations for employees with CMDs.
 
Top-cited authors
Ute Bültmann
  • University of Groningen
Sandra Brouwer
  • University of Groningen
Johannes Anema
  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Emma Irvin
  • Institute for Work and Health
Michiel F Reneman
  • University of Groningen