[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objectives:
The aim of this study was to evaluate the implementation of the Danish national return-to-work (RTW) program in 21 Danish municipalities.
We conducted a structured process evaluation on (i) reach and recruitment, (ii) fidelity, (iii) dose-delivered, (iv) dose-received, and (v) context by formulating 29 implementation criteria and analyzing qualitative and quantitative data from administrative records, interviews, field notes, and questionnaires.
All municipalities integrated the basic features of the RTW program into the existing framework of the sickness benefit management system to an acceptable degree, ie, establishment of RTW teams, participation of RTW team members in the training courses, and following the general procedures of the program. However, the level of implementation varied considerably between the municipalities, particularly with respect to fidelity (defined as implementation consistent with the principles of the interdisciplinary RTW process). Five municipalities had high and eight had low fidelity scores. Similar large differences were found with regard to dose-delivered, particularly in the quality of cooperation with beneficiaries, employers, and general practitioners. Only 50% of the first consultations with the RTW coordinator were conducted in time. Among participants who were employed when their sickness absence period started, only 9% had at least one meeting with their workplace.
It was feasible to implement the basic features of the Danish RTW program, however, large variations existed between municipalities. Establishment of well-functioning interdisciplinary RTW teams might require more time and resources, while ensuring early assessment and more frequent cooperation with employers might need more general adjustments in the Danish sickness benefit system.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Danish national return-to-work (RTW) program aims to improve the management of municipal sickness benefit in Denmark. A study is currently ongoing to evaluate the RTW program. The purpose of this article is to describe the study protocol. The program includes 21 municipalities encompassing approximately 19 500 working-age adults on long-term sickness absence, regardless of reason for sickness absence or employment status. It consists of three core elements: (i) establishment of multidisciplinary RTW teams, (ii) introduction of standardized workability assessments and sickness absence management procedures, and (iii) a comprehensive training course for the RTW teams. The effect evaluation is based on a parallel group randomized trial and a stratified cluster controlled trial and focuses on register-based primary outcomes - duration of sickness absence and RTW - and questionnaire-based secondary outcomes such as health and workability. The process evaluation utilizes questionnaires, interviews, and municipal data. The effect evaluation tests whether participants in the intervention have a (i) shorter duration of full-time sickness absence, (ii) longer time until recurrent long-term sickness absence, (iii) faster full RTW, (iv) more positive development in health, workability, pain, and sleep; it also tests whether the program is cost-effective. The process evaluation investigates: (i) whether the expected target population is reached; (ii) if the program is implemented as intended; (iii) how the beneficiaries, the RTW teams, and the external stakeholders experience the program; and (iv) whether contextual factors influenced the implementation. The program has the potential to contribute markedly to lowering human and economic costs and increasing labor force supply. First results will be available in 2013. The trial registrations are ISRCTN43004323, and ISRCTN51445682.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2012 · Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health