Early-Claim Modifiable Factors Associated With Return-to-Work Self-Efficacy Among Workers Injured at Work: Are There Differences Between Psychological and Musculoskeletal Injuries? 

Purpose The objective of this study was to investigate modifiable early-injury factors which are associated with self-efficacy to return-to-work (RTW-SE) and explore whether these factors are different for people with psychological or upper-body musculoskeletal (UB-MSK) injuries. Methods The study used a sample of workers with a UB-MSK (N = 244) or psychological (N = 113) injury who were off work. Differences between injury types were investigated across variables related to: (1) communication with RTW stakeholders; and (2) components of the job itself. A stratified and multigroup analysis was conducted using structural equation modeling (SEM). Results Injury-stratified models revealed no significant differences. in a combined model, higher job autonomy and low-stress contact from the RTW coordinator remained significantly associated with higher RTW-SE. Conclusions Job autonomy and low-stress contact from the RTW coordinator are possible areas to target to increase self-efficacy among injured workers.

Source: Black O, Sim MR, Collie A, Smith P, Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Vol. 59 (12), p.257-262, 2017 Dec.

Employee experience of workplace supervisor contact and support during long-term sickness absence

Purpose Workplace support is an important factor in promoting successful return to work. The purpose of this article is to examine relationships between supervisor contact, perceived workplace support and demographic variables among employees on long-term sickness absence. Methods Data were collected from 204 public employees at a municipality in Sweden who had been on long term sickness absence (60 days or more) using a 23 question survey instrument that collected information on demographic variables, supervisor contact and perceived workplace support. Results Most injured employees (97%) reported having contact with their supervisors during their sickness absence, with a majority (56%) reporting high levels of support, including early (58.6%) and multiple (70.7%) contacts. Most were pleased with amount of contact (68.9%) and the majority had discussed workplace accommodations (68.1%). Employees who self-initiated contact, felt the amount of contact was appropriate, had a personal meeting with their supervisors and discussed workplace adjustments reported experiencing higher levels of support from supervisors. Conclusions Employees on long-term sickness absence appreciate contact from their supervisors and this is associated with perceived workplace support. However, the amount and employee experience of this contact is important. It needs to be perceived by employees as supportive, which includes a focus on strategies (e.g., work adjustment) to facilitate a return to work. Supervisor training is required in this area to support the return to work process. Implications for Rehabilitation Contact and support from workplace supervisors is important to workers on long-term sickness absence. Employees appreciate frequent contact from supervisors during long-terms sickness absence. Employees appreciate a personal meeting with supervisors and the opportunity to discuss issues related to return to work such as work adjustment. Employers should provide training to supervisors on how to communicate and assist employees on long-term sickness absence.

Source: Buys NJ, Selander J, Sun J, Disability and Rehabilitation, p.1-7, 2017 Dec. 


Pre-injury job characteristics and return to work among injured workers in South Korea: differences by socio-demographic and injury-related characteristics

Purpose This study examined the effect of pre-injury job characteristics on the odds of RTW outcomes for specific socio-demographic and injury-related characteristics among injured workers in South Korea. Methods This study employed first-wave data for 1993 participants from the Panel Study of Workers' Compensation Insurance. A two-step cluster analysis was conducted to profile pre-injury job characteristics, including monthly wages, length of service, company size, contract type, and working hours. For each subsample selected by the characteristics of the independent variables, multinomial logistic regression analyses were performed to predict the odds ratio for being unemployed or working in a new firm versus returning to the pre-injury job, depending on cluster membership. Results Two clusters were identified with pre-injury job characteristics. Workers in the unstable employment cluster were more likely than were workers in the stable employment cluster to be unemployed or work in a new firm rather than return to the pre-injury job; this held for all socio-demographic and injury-related characteristics. Conclusions Our results showed a need to develop differential RTW strategies for injured workers in insecure jobs at the time of injury. Implications for rehabilitation Policymakers and rehabilitation practitioners need to take into account not only socio-demographic or injury-related characteristics but also working conditions at the time of injury when designing return-to-work programs for injured workers in South Korea. Injured employees in poor working conditions are relatively more vulnerable in the return-to-work process and deserve special attention and supports from the Korean government. The Korean government needs to review return-to-work policies for injured workers in unstable employment environment in the context of employment relationships rather than individual characteristics.

Source: Park SK, Lee CK, Disability and Rehabilitation p. 1-8, 2017 Nov. 

How do occupational rehabilitation clinicians approach participants on long-term sick leave in order to facilitate return to work? A focus group study

Purpose The objective of this study was to explore occupational rehabilitation clinicians' experiences on how to approach their participants on long-term sick leave in order to facilitate return to work (RTW). Methods An exploratory qualitative design was used. Four focus groups were conducted with 29 clinicians working on interdisciplinary inpatient and outpatient occupational rehabilitation teams in Norway. The clinicians shared narratives from clinical practice. Transcripts were analysed, and results were reported by use of systematic text condensation. Results The clinicians used several approaches to facilitate RTW among individuals on sick leave. Three themes emerged as especially important in order to succeed: 1) To get a basic understanding of the participant's life-world through a mapping process; 2) To build a therapeutic alliance through communication characterised by sensitivity to the participants' needs and emotional concerns; and 3) To initiate processes of change that increase the possibilities for RTW. Four main areas targetable for change were identified, three directed at the individual and one encompassing the participants' surroundings. These approaches were: a) To increase feelings of confidence and coping; b) To increase the participants' awareness of their own limits; c) To challenge inefficient and negative attitudes and thoughts related to the sick-role; and d) Close and immediate dialogue with key stakeholders. Conclusions To increase the possibilities for RTW among individuals on long-term sick leave, a thorough mapping process and the construction of a therapeutic alliance are seen as crucial elements in approaches by occupational rehabilitation clinicians. By gaining the participants' trust and identifying their barriers and possibilities for work, the clinicians can target modifiable factors, especially at the individual level, and obstacles for RTW in their individual surroundings. This study elucidates what occupational rehabilitation clinicians do, say and provide to increase their participants' abilities and possibilities to RTW.

Source: Eftedal M, Kvaal AM, Ree E, Øyeflaten I, Maeland S, BMC Health Services Research, Vol. 17, p.1-13, 2017 Nov.

Return-to-work success despite conflicts: an exploration of decision-making during a work rehabilitation program

Purpose Collective decision-making by stakeholders appears important to return-to-work success, yet few studies have explored the processes involved. This study aims to explore the influence of decision-making on return-to-work for workers with musculoskeletal or common mental disorders. Methods This study is a secondary analysis using data from three earlier multiple-case studies that documented decision-making during similar and comparable work rehabilitation programs. Individual interviews were conducted at the end of the program with stakeholders, namely, the disabled workers and representatives of health care professionals, employers, unions and insurers. Verbatims were analysed inductively. Results The 28 decision-making processes (cases) led to 115 different decisions-making instances and included the following components: subjects of the decisions, stakeholders' concerns and powers, and types of decision-making. No differences were found in decision-making processes relative to the workers' diagnoses or return-to-work status. However, overall analysis of decision-making revealed that stakeholder agreement on a return-to-work goal and acceptance of an intervention plan in which the task demands aligned with the worker's capacities were essential for return-to-work success. Conclusions These results support the possibility of return-to-work success despite conflictual decision-making processes. In addition to facilitating consensual decisions, future studies should be aimed at facilitating negotiated decisions. Implications for rehabilitation Facilitating decision-making, with the aim of obtaining agreement from all stakeholders on a return-to-work goal and their acceptance of an intervention plan that respects the worker's capacities, is important for return-to-work success. Rehabilitation professionals should constantly be on the lookout for potential conflicts, which may either complicate the reach of an agreement between the stakeholders or constrain return-to-work possibilities. Rehabilitation professionals should also be constantly watching for workers' and employers' return-to-work concerns, as they may change during work rehabilitation, potentially challenging a reached agreement.

Source: Gouin MM, Coutu MF, Durand MJ, Disability and Rehabilitation, p. 1-11, 2017 Nov.

Optimizing cooperation between general practitioners, occupational health and rehabilitation physicians in Germany: a qualitative study

Purpose To achieve successful medical rehabilitation and timely return to work, general practitioners, occupational health and rehabilitation physicians need to cooperate effectively. This cooperation, however, can be hampered by organizational, interpersonal, and structural barriers. In this article, we present and discuss suggestions proposed by physicians and patients on how these barriers can be overcome. Methods We conducted eight qualitative focus group discussions with general practitioners (GPs), occupational health physicians (OPs), rehabilitation physicians (RPs) and rehabilitation patients, which we analyzed with qualitative content analysis methods. Results Room for improvement exists with regard to (1) regulation (e.g. formalized role and obligatory input of occupational physicians), (2) finance (e.g. financial incentives for physicians based on the quality of the application), (3) technology (e.g. communication by email), (4) organizational procedures (e.g. provision of workplace descriptions to RPs on a routine basis), (5) education and information (e.g. joint educational programs, measures to improve the image of OPs), and (6) promotion of cooperation (e.g. between OPs and GPs in regards to the application process). Conclusions Many suggestions are practical and could be implemented into the daily routine of physicians, while others demand multi-level, multi-stakeholder approaches. Our findings are supported by numerous international studies (especially from Western Europe). Future quantitative research could assess the relative weight of these findings. Feasibility and effectiveness of the proposed suggestions should be tested in controlled interventional studies.

Source: Stratil J, Rieger M, Voelter-Mahlknecht S, International Archives of Occupational & Environmental Health, Vol. 90 (8), p.809-821, 2017 Nov.


Positive experiences of a vocational rehabilitation intervention for individuals on long-term sick leave, the Dirigo project: a qualitative study

Purpose The process of returning to work after long-term sick leave can sometimes be complex. Many factors, (e.g. cooperation between different authorities and the individual as well as individual factors such as health, emotional well-being and self-efficacy) may have an impact on an individual's ability to work. The aim of this study was to investigate clients' experiences with an individually tailored vocational rehabilitation, the Dirigo project, and encounters with professionals working on it. The Dirigo project was based on collaboration between rehabilitation authorities, individually tailored interventions and a motivational interviewing approach. Methods A descriptive qualitative design was used with data collected through interviews. Fourteen individuals on long-term sick leave took part in individual semi-structured interviews. The interviews were analysed using content analysis. Results The analysis showed overall positive experience of methods and encounters with professionals in a vocational rehabilitation project. The positive experiences were based on four key factors: 1. Opportunities for receiving various dimensions of support. 2. Good overall treatment by the professionals. 3. Satisfaction with the working methods of the project, and 4. Conclusions The main result showed that the clients had an overall positive experience of a vocational rehabilitation project and encounters with professionals who used motivational interviewing as a communication method. The overall positive experience indicated that their interactions with the different professionals may have affected their self-efficacy in general and in relation to transition to work. The knowledge is essential for the professionals working in the area of vocational rehabilitation. However, vocational rehabilitation interventions also need a societal approach to be able to offer clients opportunities for job training and real jobs.

Source: Andersén Å, Ståhl C, Anderzén I, Kristiansson P, Larsson K, BMC Public Health, Vol. 17, p.1-10, 2017 Oct.

Evaluation of a randomized controlled trial on the effect on return to work with coaching combined with light therapy and pulsed electromagnetic field therapy for workers with work-related chronic stress

Purpose Chronic work-related stress is quite prevalent in the working population and is in some cases accompanied by long-term sick leave. These stress complaints highly impact employees and are costly due to lost productivity and medical expenses. A new treatment platform with light therapy plus Pulsed Electro Magnetic Fields (PEMF) in combination with coaching was used to assess whether more positive effects on return to work, stress, work-related fatigue, and quality of life could be induced compared to coaching alone. Methods A placebo-controlled trial was executed after inclusion of 96 workers, aged 18-65 with work-related chronic stress complaints and who were on sick leave (either part-time or full-time). Participants were divided into three arms at random. Group 1 (n = 28) received the treatment and coaching (Intervention group), group 2 (n = 28) received the treatment with the device turned off and coaching (Placebo group) and group 3 (n = 28) received coaching only (Control group). The data were collected at baseline, and after 6, 12 and 24 weeks. The primary outcome was % return to work, and secondary outcomes were work-related fatigue (emotional exhaustion and need for recovery after work), stress (distress and hair cortisol), and quality of life (SF-36 dimensions: vitality, emotional role limitation, and social functioning). Results Eighty-four workers completed all measurements, 28 in each group. All groups improved significantly over time in the level of return to work, as well as on all secondary outcomes. No statistical differences between the three groups were found either on the primary outcome or on any of the secondary outcomes. Conclusions Light therapy with Pulsed Electro Magnetic Fields PEMF therapy has no additional effect on return to work, stress, fatigue, and quality of live compared to coaching alone.

Source: Nieuwenhuijsen K, Schoutens AMC, Frings-Dresen MHW, Sluiter JK, BMC Public Health, Vol. 17, p.1-8, 2017 Oct.

Changes in return to work among patients in vocational rehabilitation: a self-determination theory perspective

Purpose The aim of the current study was to examine whether patient perceptions of autonomy support from the treatment team in a vocational rehabilitation program will be associated with change (increase) in need satisfaction, autonomous motivation, perceived competence, well-being, physical activity, and return to work (RTW), and whether the self-determination theory (SDT) Model of Health Behavior will provide adequate fit to the data. Methods A total of 90 participants were enrolled in a longitudinal study and completed measures at four time points over 15 months. Results Participants reported increases in all variables, and in general these changes were maintained at six weeks post-rehabilitation and at 15 months post-baseline. As well, the SDT Model of Health Behavior provided adequate fit to the data. Conclusions These results underscore the importance of health care practitioners’ providing support for their patients’ autonomy, competence, and relatedness to improve well-being, physical activity, and RTW in the context of vocational rehabilitation. Implications for Rehabilitation Vocational rehabilitation that emphasizes physical activity is associated with increases in patients’ well-being, physical activity, and return to work (RTW).It is important for health care practitioners to provide support for their patients’ autonomy, competence, and relatedness in the context of vocational rehabilitation, as doing so is associated with increases in patients’ autonomous motivation, perceived competence, and psychosocial outcomes.

Source: Farholm, Halvari A, Niemiec H, Williams CP, Deci GC, Disability & Rehabilitation, Vol. 39 (21), p.2039-2046, 2017 Oct.


Enabling Work: Occupational Therapy Interventions for Persons with Occupational Injuries and Diseases: A Scoping Review

Purpose This review aims to map the scope of published research on occupational therapy (OT) interventions and pertinent work and work-related outcomes for persons with occupational injuries and diseases. Methods The scoping review adapted Arksey and O'Malley's framework. Six electronic databases were searched. Ancestral search was also done on five systematic reviews. The search was conducted from September 2015 to October 2015. Interventions and outcomes were coded using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health Core Set for Vocational Rehabilitation to plot trends. Results Forty-six articles were included in the review. The top five intervention approaches included: acquiring skills (12.27%), health services, systems, and policies (10.43%), products and technology for employment (9.20%), handling stress and other psychological demands (7.98%), and apprenticeship (6.74%). The top five outcomes targeted included: remunerative employment (15.71%); sensation of pain (10.99%); emotional functions (5.76%); handling stress and other psychological demands (5.76%); economic self-sufficiency (4.71%); muscle endurance functions (4.71%); exercise tolerance functions (4.71%); undertaking multiple tasks (4.19%); acquiring, keeping, and terminating a job (4.19%); and looking after one's health (4.19%). Conclusions The trend in interventions show the use of activities and environment facilitators which are attuned to the conceptual nature of OT. Furthermore, the trend in outcomes shows that there is substantial evidence that supports the use of OT to target work. This review may provide a platform for collaboration with other professionals and also help identify research directions to strengthen the evidence base for OT in work-related practice.

Source: Blas AJT, Beltran KMB, Martinez PGV, Yao DPG, Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 2017 Sep.

Self-Reported Work Ability Predicts Rehabilitation Measures, Disability Pensions, Other Welfare Benefits, and Work Participation: Longitudinal Findings from a Sample of German Employees

Purpose The study examined the performance of the Work Ability Index in predicting rehabilitation measures and disability pensions, sickness absence and unemployment benefits, and work participation among a sample of workers previously receiving sickness absence benefits. Methods Workers aged 40 to 54 years who received sickness absence benefits in 2012 completed the Work Ability Index in 2013. Outcomes were extracted from administrative data records. Results Data for 2149 participants were included (mean age: 47.8 years; 54.4% women). Mean follow-up was 19 months. Work Ability Index scores were poor (7-27 points) in 21% of the participants, and moderate (28-36 points) in 38.4%. In all, 224 rehabilitation measures and 35 disability pensions were approved. Fully adjusted analyses showed increased risk of rehabilitation measures in workers with poor (HR 4.55; 95% CI 3.14-6.60) and moderate scores (HR 2.08; 95% CI 1.43-3.01) compared to workers with good or excellent scores (37-49 points). The risk of a disability pension increased significantly for workers with poor scores (HR 7.78; 95% CI 2.59-23.35). In addition, poor scores were prospectively associated with a longer duration of sickness absence and employment benefits, and fewer employment days and less income from regular employment. Conclusions The Work Ability Index is a potential tool for following up workers who already have an increased risk of permanent work disability due to previous long-term sickness absence.

Source: Bethge M, Spanier K, Peters E, Michel E, Radoschewski M, Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 2017 Sep.

Factors associated with non-return to work in the severely injured victims 3 years after a road accident: A prospective study

Purpose Road accidents may impact victims' physical and/or mental health and socio-occupational life, particularly the capacity to return to work. The purpose of our study is to assess modifiable medical and socio-occupational factors of non-return to work in the severely injured 3 years after a road accident. Results Among1,168 road accidents casualties in the Rhône administrative Département of France followed for five years, 141 of the 222 severely injured (Maximal Abbreviated Injury Scale ≥ 3) aged more than 16 years who were in work at the time of the accident, reported whether they had returned to work in the 3 years following the accident. The subgroups of those who had (n = 113) and had not returned to work (n = 28) were compared for socio-occupational (gender, age, educational level, marital status, socio-occupational group) accident-related medical factors (type of road user, type of journey, responsibility in the accident, initial care) and post-accident medical factors (pain intensity, post-traumatic stress disorder, physical sequelae, quality of life) by using standardized tools. Severity of initial head, face and lower-limb injury, intense persistent pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, poor self-assessed quality of life and health status at 3 years were associated with non-return to work on univariate analysis. On multivariate analysis, severity of initial head and lower-limb injury, intense persistent pain at 3 years and post-traumatic stress disorder were significantly associated with non-return to work 3 years following severe road-accident injury. Conclusions Post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain were essential modifiable medical determinants of non-return to work in the severely injured after a road accident: early adapted management could promote return to work in the severely injured. Improve early adapted treatment of pain and PTSD in the rehabilitation team should help the severely injured return to work following a road accident.

Source: Pélissier C, Fort E, Fontana L, Charbotel B, Hours M, Accident Analysis & Prevention, Vol. 106, p.411-419, 2017 Sep.

AOÛT 2017

Workplace Social System and Sustained Return-to-Work: A Study of Supervisor and Co-worker Supportiveness and Injury Reaction

Purpose To examine the impact of the social workplace system on sustained return-to-work (SRTW). Methods A random sample of workers' compensation claimants was recruited to complete a survey following claim acceptance (baseline), and 6 months later (time 2). SRTW, at baseline and time 2, was classified as those reporting being back at work for >28 days. Co-worker and supervisor support were assessed using five and seven items, respectively, and total scores were produced. A list of potential supervisory and co-worker reactions were presented to participants who were asked whether the reaction applied to them; response were coded as positive or non-positive. Demographic and injury characteristics, and work context factors were collected. Baseline and at time 2 multivariable models were conducted to examine the impact of supervisory and coworker support and injury reaction on SRTW. Results 551 (baseline) and 403 (time 2) participants from the overall cohort met study eligibility criteria. At baseline, 59% of all participants indicated SRTW; 70% reported SRTW at time 2. Participants reported moderate support from their supervisor (mean = 8.5 ± 3.9; median = 8.2; range = 5-15) and co-workers (mean = 10.2 ± 4.5; median = 10.3; range = 5-25). Over half reported a positive supervisor (59%) or co-worker injury reaction (71%). Multivariable models found that a positive supervisor injury reaction was significantly associated with SRTW at baseline (OR 2.3; 95% CI 1.4-3.9) and time 2 (OR 1.6; 95% CI 1.1-2.3). Conclusions Promoting supervisor positivity towards an injured worker is an important organizational work disability management strategy.

Source: Jetha A, LaMontagne AD, Lilley R, Hogg-Johnson S, Sim M, Smith P, Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 2017 Aug.

Legislative change enabling use of early part-time sick leave enhanced return to work and work participation in Finland

Purpose The aim of the study was to assess the effectiveness of the use of part-time sick leave at the early (first 12 weeks) stage of work disability due to mental disorder or musculoskeletal disease on sustained return to work (RTW) and overall work participation. Methods In a nation-wide register-based quasi-experimental study, we compared sustained RTW (ie, ≥28 consecutive days at work) and 2-year work participation between the part- and full-time sickness absence (SA) benefit groups (N=1878 in each group) using propensity-score matching. Persons who received partial or full SA benefit due to musculoskeletal diseases or mental disorders between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2011 were eligible as cases or controls, respectively. Results A higher proportion showed sustained RTW after part- compared to full-time sick leave [absolute risk difference 8.0%, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 5.3-10.9]. Moreover, the proportion of time at work was at a 10.5% higher level in the part- compared to full-time sick leave group. The prevalence of full disability retirement was almost three-fold among the full- compared to part-time sick leave group, whereas partial disability retirement was 4.5-fold more prevalent in the part- compared to full-time sick leave group. Conclusions The use of part-time sick leave during the first three months of SA enhances RTW and overall work participation during two years among persons with mental disorders and musculoskeletal diseases. The prescription of part-time sick leave can be recommended at an early stage of work disability.

Source: Viikari-Juntura E, Virta LJ, Kausto J, Autti-Rämö I, Martimo KP, Laaksonen M, Leinonen T, Husgafvel-Pursiainen K, Burdorf A, Solovieva S, Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, 2017 Aug.

Psychological morbidity and return to work after injury: multicentre cohort study

Purpose The benefits of work for physical, psychological, and financial wellbeing are well documented. Return to work (RTW) after unintentional injury is often delayed, and psychological morbidity may contribute to this delay. The impact of psychological morbidity on RTW after a wide range of unintentional injuries in the UK has not been adequately quantified. Aim To quantify the role of psychological factors, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic distress, on RTW following unintentional injuries. Design and Setting A longitudinal multicentre prospective study was undertaken in Nottingham, Bristol, Leicester, and Guildford, UK. Methods Participants (n=273) were 16-69-year-olds admitted to hospital following unintentional injury, who were in paid employment prior to injury. They were surveyed at baseline, then at 1, 2, 4, and 12 months following injury; demographic data were collected along with injury characteristics, psychological morbidity, and RTW status. Associations between demographic, injury and psychological factors, and RTW between 2 and 12 months after injury were quantified using random effects logistic regression. Results The odds of RTW between 2 and 12 months after injury reduced as depression scores early in the recovery period (1 month after injury) increased (odds ratio [OR] 0.87, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.79 to 0.95) and as length of hospital stay increased (OR 0.91, 95% CI] = 0.86 to 0.96). For those experiencing threatening life events following injury (OR 0.27, 95% CI = 0.10 to 0.72) and with higher scores on the Crisis Support Scale (OR 0.93, 95% CI] = 0.88 to 0.99), the odds of RTW between 2 and 12 months after injury were lower. Multiple imputation analysis found similar results, but those relating to crisis support did not remain statistically significant. Conclusions Primary care professionals can identify patients at risk of delayed RTW who may benefit from management of psychological morbidity and support to RTW.

Source: Kendrick D, Dhiman P, Kellezi B, Coupland C, Whitehead J, Beckett K, Christie N, Sleney J, Barnes J, StephenMorriss R, British Journal of General Practice, Vol. 67(661), 555-564, 2017 Aug.


Importance of social capital at the workplace for return to work among women with a history of long-term sick leave: a cohort study

Purpose The workplace is an essential source of social capital for many people; it provides mutual support and gives meaning to life. However, few prospective studies have thoroughly investigated the importance of aspects of social capital in the workplace. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations between aspects of social capital (social support, sense of community, and quality of leadership) at the workplace, and work ability, working degree, and vitality among women with a history of long-term sick leave from human service organizations. Methods A longitudinal cohort study was performed among women with a history of long-term sick leave. The study started in 2005, and the women were followed up at 6 months, 1 year, and 6 years using self-reported questionnaires (baseline n=283). Linear mixed models were used for longitudinal analysis of the repeated measurements of prospective degree of work ability, working degree, and vitality. Analyses were performed with different models; the explanatory variables for each model were social support, sense of community, and quality of leadership and time. Results Social capital in terms of quality of leadership (being good at solving conflicts and giving high priority to job satisfaction), sense of community (co-operation between colleagues) and social support (help and support from immediate superiors and colleagues) increased the women's work ability score (WAS) as well as working degree over time. Additionally, social capital in terms of quality of leadership increased the women's vitality score over time. Conclusions A sustainable return-to-work process among individuals with a history of long-term sick leave, going in and out of work participation, could be supported with social support, good quality of leadership, and a sense of community at the workplace. The responsibility for the rehabilitation process can not be reduced to an individual problem, but ought to include all stakeholders involved in the process, such as managers, colleagues, health care services, and the social security agency.

Source: Rydström I, Englund LD, Dellve L, Ahlstrom L, BMC Nursing, Vol. 16, 1-9, 2017 July.

Cooperation of return-to-work professionals: the challenges of multi-actor work disability management

Purpose This article explores which concrete factors hinder or facilitate the cooperation of return-to-work (RTW) professionals in a complex system of multiple stakeholders. Methods The empirical material consists of in-depth interviews with 24 RTW professionals from various organizations involved in work disability management in Finland. The interviews were analyzed using thematic content analysis. Results The study revealed several kinds of challenges in the cooperation of the professionals. These were related to two partly interrelated themes: communication and distribution of responsibility. The most difficult problems were connected to the cooperation between public employment offices and other stakeholders. However, the study distinguished notable regional differences depending primarily on the scale of the local network. The main areas of improvement proposed by the interviewees were related to better networking of case managers and expansion of expertise. Conclusions The article argues for the importance of systematic networking and stresses the role of public employment services in the multi-actor management of work disabilities. The article contributes to existing work disability case management models by suggesting the employment administration system as an important component in addition to health care, workplace and insurance systems. The study also highlights the need for expansion of expertise in the field. Implications for rehabilitation Cooperation between RTW professionals in public employment offices and other organizations involved in work disability management was considered inadequate. In order to improve the cooperation of RTW professionals, the stakeholders need to create more systematic ways of communication and networking with professionals in other organizations. There is a need to expand the expertise in work disability management and rehabilitation, partly by increasing the role of other professionals than physicians.

Source: Liukko J, Kuuva N, Disability & Rehabilitation, Vol. 39 (15), 1466-1473, 2017 Jul.