Purpose Chronic musculoskeletal pain is a significant burden for employees, employers, and society. However, more knowledge is needed about which interventions reduce sick leave. Interventions were defined as the act or an instance of intervening, provided by different stakeholders. This review synthesizes the experiences of patients, employers, and health professionals concerning the interventions that influence returning to work and staying at work for persons with chronic musculoskeletal pain. Methods A literature search was performed using several combinations of key terms. Overall, 18 qualitative studies published between 2002 and 2018 were included. Qualitative analysis assessed how much confidence could be placed in each review finding. Results Moderate evidence was found for factors improving the return to work process such as collaboration between stakeholders, including the persons with chronic musculoskeletal pain and support from all involved actors in the process. Moderate evidence was found for self-management strategies and workplace adjustments needed to facilitate more persons to returning to work and staying at work despite pain. Conclusions This review provides stakeholders, employers, and health professionals' information that could be used to develop and implement interventions to increase the possibilities for persons with chronic musculoskeletal pain returning to work or staying at work.
Source: Liedberg GM, Björk M, Dragioti E, Turesson C, Journal of clinical medicine, 2021 Mar 17; Vol. 10 (6)
Background Chronic pain is a major and complex health condition associated with reduced work performance. A multimodal rehabilitation programme (MMRP) is a common intervention for chronic pain conditions, the goal being for the person to maintain or return to work. Aim To investigate the multivariate relationships between health-related quality of life, life interference, pain, physiological factors before MMRP and full-time sick leave 1 year after MMRP. Methods Data were collected from the Swedish Quality Registry for Pain Rehabilitation. The study included 284 participants. Separate analyses were performed for women, men and three age groups. Results There were correlations between sick leave, physical functioning, pain duration, health-related quality of life, and self-assessed importance of work before MMRP and sick leave 1 year after MMRP. The patterns of factors associated with full-time sick leave varied for women, men and age groups. Conclusions These findings indicate that full-time sick leave for patients with chronic pain is affected by a number of interacting factors. Occupational therapy interventions aiming to develop activity skills in relation to work roles and enable patients to develop skills required to manage the physical, psychological and social demands to return to work or maintain work could be valuable to increase the possibility of attaining a sustainable work situation.
Source: Spinord L, Kassberg AC, Stålnacke BM, Stenberg G, Scandinavian journal of occupational therapy, 2021 Mar 30, pp. 1-15
Purpose To compare return to work (RTW) rates among patients with low back pain (LBP) and different job relations randomized to brief or multidisciplinary intervention. Methods Design: A randomized controlled trial with 1-year follow-up. Setting: Silkeborg Regional Hospital, Denmark. Subjects: Four hundred seventy-six participants were divided into two groups concerning job relations: strong (influence on job and no fear of losing it) or weak (no influence on job and/or fear of losing it), and afterwards randomized to brief or multidisciplinary intervention. Interventions: Brief intervention included examination and advice by a rheumatologist and a physiotherapist. Multidisciplinary intervention included brief intervention plus coaching by a case manager making a plan for RTW with the patient. Main Measures: Primary outcome was 1-year RTW rate. Secondary outcomes included pain intensity (LBP rating scale), disability (Roland Morris disability scale), and psychological measures (Common Mental Disorder Questionnaire, Major Depression Inventory, and EQ-5D-3L).Results Mean (SD) age was 43.1 (9.8) years. Among 272 participants with strong job relations, RTW was achieved for 104/137 (76%) receiving brief intervention compared to 89/135 (66%) receiving multidisciplinary intervention, hazard ratio 0.73 (CI: 0.55-0.96). Corresponding results for 204 participants with weak job relations were 69/102 (68%) in both interventions, hazard ratio 1.07 (CI: 0.77-1.49). For patients with strong job relations, depressive symptoms and quality of life were more improved after brief intervention.Conclusion Brief intervention resulted in higher RTW rates than multidisciplinary intervention for employees with strong job relations. There were no differences in RTW rates between interventions for employees with weak job relations.
Source: Langagergaard V, Jensen OK, Nielsen CV, Jensen C, Labriola M, Sørensen VN, Pedersen P, Clinical rehabilitation, 2021 Apr 11, pp. 2692155211005387
Purpose Work resumption is a big challenge in the rehabilitation process for individuals with whiplash-associated disorders (WAD). To better meet the needs of individuals with WAD in their return to work process, more knowledge on their experiences and perspectives is needed. The aim of this study was to explore the experiences of work ability and the work situation of individuals who participated in a neck-specific exercise programme for chronic WAD. Methods This qualitative study has an exploratory and descriptive design based on data collected through open-ended interviews with 17 individuals with chronic WAD. Data were analysed inductively using conventional content analysis. Results Analysis of the data yielded the following five categories related to the participants' narratives on their experiences of work ability and their work situation: Return to work - a process of setbacks and bureaucracy; The need to be understood by health care professionals, and to receive a treatment plan; Individual resources are important for work ability; The consequences of reduced work ability; and Working conditions are important for work ability. Conclusion Individuals with chronic WAD often struggle to return to work. Emotional and practical support from stakeholders is imperative and needs to be strengthened. Participating in a neck-specific exercise programme, including being acknowledged and receiving information about WAD, could positively affect the work ability of WAD sufferers. This study has provided management strategies to improve the ability to work for individuals with chronic WAD, and highlights the need to incorporate a healthy and sustainable return to work in the rehabilitation of individuals with WAD, thereby making their return to work a success.
Source: Peolsson A, Hermansen A, Peterson G, Nilsing Strid E, BMC public health, 2021 Apr 23; Vol. 21 (1), pp.785
Purpose The aim of this study was to examine the impact of anxiety and depression disorders on sustained return to work (RTW) for men and women with musculoskeletal strain or sprain. Methods Accepted lost-time claims for spine and upper-extremity strain or sprain were extracted for workers in the Canadian province of British Columbia from 2009 to 2013 (N=84 925). Pre-existing and new onset anxiety and depression disorders were identified using longitudinal health claims data. Probability of sustained RTW was analyzed using Cox proportional hazards models, stratified by gender and adjusted for potential confounders. Results For pre-existing disorders, compared to men with no anxiety and no depression, men with anxiety only [hazard ratio (HR) 0.88, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.84-0.93], depression only (HR 0.94, 95% CI 0.89-1.00), and anxiety and depression (HR 0.93, 95% CI 0.90-0.97) had lower probabilities of sustained RTW in adjusted models. The same direction of effect was found for women, but anxiety only had a smaller effect size among women compared to men (HR anxiety only 0.95, 95% CI 0.92-0.99; HR depression only 0.98, 95% CI 0.93-1.03, HR anxiety and depression 0.94, 95% CI 0.91-0.97). Among men and women, new onset disorders were associated with lower probability of sustained RTW and the effect estimates were larger than for pre-existing disorders. Conclusions Findings suggest that workers' compensation benefits and programs intended to improve RTW after musculoskeletal injury should take pre-existing and new onset anxiety and depression disorders into consideration and that gender-sensitive work disability strategies may be warranted.
Source: Jones AM, Koehoorn M, Bültmann U, McLeod CB, Scandinavian journal of work, environment & health, 2021 Mar 21
Purpose There are no clear indicators for predicting return to work for patients with chronic low back pain (LBP). We aim to report the outcomes of a 14-week multidisciplinary programme targeting patients with chronic LBP who failed conventional physiotherapy to provide functional rehabilitation. Also, this study will identify factors predicting successful return to work (RTW). Methods A collected cohort of patients with chronic LBP was consecutively enrolled into the programme from 1996 to 2014. All recruited patients failed to RTW despite at least 3 months of conservative treatment. Patient underwent weekly multidisciplinary sessions with physiotherapists, occupational therapists and clinical psychologists. Patient perceived function was considered the primary outcome of the programme. Patients were assessed for their sitting, standing and walking tolerance. Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) and Spinal Function Sort Score (SFSS) were used to assess patient perceived disability. Results One hundred and fifty-eight patients were recruited. After the programme, statistically significant improvement was found in ODI (47.5 to 45.0, p = 0.01) and SFSS (98.0 to 109.5, p < 0.001). There was statistically significant improvement (p < 0.01) in sitting, standing, walking tolerance and straight leg raise tests. 47.4% of the patients were able to meet their work demand. Multivariate logistic regression model (R 2 = 59.5%, χ 2 (9) = 85.640, p < 0.001) demonstrated that lower initial job demand level and higher patient-perceived back function correlated with greater likelihood of returning to work. Conclusion The results of this study may support the use of this multidisciplinary programme to improve patient function and return to work.
Source: Leung GCN, Cheung PWH, Lau G, Lau ST, Luk KDK, Wong YW, Cheung KMC, Koljonen PA, Cheung JPY, BMC musculoskeletal disorders, 2021 Mar 06; Vol. 22 (1), pp. 251
Purpose To study the longitudinal relationship between interdisciplinary vocational rehabilitation (VR) with and without additional work module on work participation of patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain and sick leave from work. Methods Retrospective longitudinal data retrieved from care as usual in seven VR centers in the Netherlands was used. The VR program without work module consisted of multi-component healthcare (physical exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy, education, relaxation). The other program with additional work module (VR+) included case management and a workplace visit. Generalized estimating equations using binary logistic was applied. The dependent variable was work participation (achieved/not achieved) on discharge and 6-months follow-up. Independent variables were type of intervention, return to work expectation, sick leave duration, working status, job strain, and job dissatisfaction. Results Data from N = 470 patients were analyzed, of which 26% received VR and 74% VR+. Both programs increased work participation at 6-months follow-up (VR 86%, VR+ 87%). The crude model showed a significant longitudinal relationship between type of intervention and work participation in favor of VR+ (OR 1.8, p = 0.01). The final model showed a non-significant relationship on discharge (OR 1.3, p = 0.51) and a significant relationship on 6-months follow-up in favor of VR+ (OR 1.7, p = 0.04). RTW expectation was a significant confounder in the final model on discharge and 6-months follow up (OR 3.1, p = 0.00). Conclusions Both programs led to increased work participation. The addition of a work module to the VR program lead to a significant increase in odds of work participation at 6-months follow-up.
Source: Beemster TT, van Bennekom CAM, van Velzen JM, Frings-Dresen MHW, Reneman MF, Journal of occupational rehabilitation, 2021 Mar; Vol. 31 (1), pp. 72-83
Purpose There is limited knowledge about motivational interviewing (MI) for people on sick leave with musculoskeletal disorders. Hence, our objective was to investigate what research on MI as a method to facilitate return to work for individuals who are on sick leave due to musculoskeletal disorders exists, and what are the results of the research? Methods We systematically searched MEDLINE, PsycINFO, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, CINAHL, Web of Science, Sociological Abstracts, Epistemonikos, SveMed + and DARE & HTA (covering 1983 to August 2019). We also searched the MINT bulletin and relevant web pages. Eligibility criteria: empirical studies investigating MI and return to work for people with musculoskeletal disorders. Two authors independently screened the records, critically appraised the studies and charted the data using a data extraction form. Results The searches identified 1264 records of which two studies were included. One randomized controlled trial (RCT) found no effect of MI on return to work for disability pensioner with back pain (n = 89, high risk of bias), while a cluster RCT found that MI increased return to work for claimants with chronic musculoskeletal disorders (n = 728, low risk of bias). Conclusions This mapping review identified a huge gap in research on MI to increase return to work for individuals with musculoskeletal disorders.
Source: Aanesen F, Berg R, Løchting I, Tingulstad A, Eik H, Storheim K, Grotle M, Øiestad BE, Journal of occupational rehabilitation, 2021 Mar; Vol. 31 (1), pp. 63-71
Purpose Supervisors play an important role during the return to work (RTW) of injured workers. Yet little research has been done on the actions associated with this role or the contexts in which they are taken. The purpose of this study was to develop courses of action to promote supervisors' involvement in the process aimed at achieving sustainable RTW for workers following a work-related musculoskeletal disorder (MSD), and to verify their pertinence, feasibility, and applicability in practice. Methods A two-phase qualitative method was used. (1) Secondary content analysis of 46 interviews of 14 workers post-MSD and 32 other actors in the RTW process, conducted during a prior case study, yielded proposals for courses of action composed of specific actions for supervisors. (2) The pertinence, feasibility, and applicability of these courses of action and specific actions were explored, first, through a self-administered questionnaire to initiate individual reflection, and later in greater depth through focus groups to identify the different contexts in which they might be applicable. Thematic analysis was performed for each phase. Results Eight proposed courses of action, including specific concrete actions and conditions influencing supervisors' involvement, were developed by the researchers and generally perceived as pertinent and feasible by the participants. Several aspects of the organizational context appeared to influence implementation of these courses of action within the organizations. Conclusion Organizational context appears to influence the application of these courses of action, as do the conditions under which they are implemented.
Source: Nastasia I, Coutu MF, Rives R, Dubé J, Gaspard S, Quilicot A, Journal of occupational rehabilitation, 2021 Mar; Vol. 31 (1), pp. 107-118
Purpose This study compared the preoperative levels and postoperative recovery courses of physical and mental impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions of working-age patients who return to work (RTW) by 3, 6 or 12 months after total knee arthroplasty (TKA). Methods A prospective survey study including TKA patients (aged < 65) (n = 146) who returned to work (RdTW) in the first postoperative year. Three groups were compared: those who returned by 3 (n = 35), 6 (n = 40) or 12 (n = 29) months. Surveys were completed preoperatively and at 6 weeks and 3, 6 and 12 months postoperatively. Outcomes represented domains of the International Classification of Functioning, i.e. physical impairments (pain, stiffness, vitality), mental impairments (mental health and depressive symptoms), activity limitations (physical functioning) and participation restrictions (social and work functioning). Results Preoperative knee-specific pain and physical functioning levels were better among patients who RdTW by 3 months, compared to those who returned by 12 months. Patients who RdTW by 3 months experienced significantly better recovery from physical impairments than those who returned by 6 months (on general pain) or 12 months (on general and knee-specific pain and on stiffness). Patients returning by 3 months experienced significantly better recovery from activity limitations (on knee-specific physical functioning). Conclusions To optimize return to work outcome after TKA surgery, the focus should lie on physical impairments (general and knee-specific pain, stiffness) and activity limitations (knee-specific physical functioning) during recovery.
Source: Hylkema TH, Stevens M, van Beveren J, Rijk PC, Brouwer RW, Bulstra SK, Kuijer PPFM, Brouwer S, Journal of occupational rehabilitation, 2021 Jan 30
Purpose To describe when patients return to different types of work after elective carpal tunnel release (CTR) surgery and identify the factors associated with the duration of sickness absence. Methods Multicentre prospective observational cohort study. Participants were recruited preoperatively from 16 UK centres and clinical, occupational and demographic information were collected. Participants completed a weekly diary and questionnaires at four and 12 weeks postoperatively.The main outcome was duration of work absence from date of surgery to date of first return to work. Results 254 participants were enrolled in the study and 201 provided the follow-up data. Median duration of sickness absence was 20 days (range 1-99). Earlier return to work was associated with having surgery in primary care and a self-reported work role involving more than 4 hours of daily computer use. Being female and entitlement to more than a month of paid sick leave were both associated with longer work absences. The duration of work absence was strongly associated with the expected duration of leave, as reported by participants before surgery. Earlier return to work was not associated with poorer clinical outcomes reported 12 weeks after CTR. Conclusions There was wide variation in the duration of work absence after CTR across all occupational categories. A combination of occupational, demographic and clinical factors was associated with the duration of work absence, illustrating the complexity of return to work decision making. However, preoperative expectations were strongly associated with the actual duration of leave. We found no evidence that earlier return to work was harmful. Clear, consistent advice from clinicians preoperatively setting expectations of a prompt return to work could reduce unnecessary sickness absence after CTR. To enable this, clinicians need evidence-informed guidance about appropriate timescales for the safe return to different types of work.
Source: Newington L, Ntani G, Warwick D, Adams J, Walker-Bone K, BMJ open, 2021 Feb 10; Vol. 11 (2), pp. e041656
Purpose A growing number of patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is at working age and need to return to work (RTW) after surgery. The aim of this systematic review is to give an overview of the literature regarding RTW after TKA and beneficial and limiting factors influencing this process. Methods A systematic search in four electronic databases was conducted in November 2019 to identify studies describing RTW after primary TKA in patients aged 65 years or younger. Study characteristics and data on work status before and after surgery were extracted. All studies were assessed for risk of bias. Results Fourteen studies published between 2009 and 2019 were included in this review, accounting for a total of 3,073 patients. The percentage of patients working after TKA ranged from 36 to 89%, and the fraction of patients working before and returning to work after surgery ranged from 40 to 98%. Mean time of RTW ranged from 7.7 to 16.6 weeks. Most important factors associated with a slower or no RTW were a more physical nature of employment and preoperative absence from work. The majority of patients undergoing TKA returned to work postoperatively. However, comparison between studies is seriously hampered by the wide variation regarding the definition and timeframe used to measure the work status. Therefore, standardized outcome measures for studies investigating RTW after TKA are warranted. We identify this review as level-I evidence (systematic review of level-I and level-II studies).
Source: Van Leemput D, Neirynck J, Berger P, Vandenneucker H, The journal of knee surgery, 2021 Jan 20.
Purpose The ability of total knee and hip arthroplasty (TKA/THA) to facilitate return to work (RTW) when it is the patient's preoperative intent to do so remains unclear. We aimed at determining whether TKA/THA facilitated RTW in patients of working age who intended to return. Methods This is a prospective cohort study of 173 consecutive patients <65 years of age, undergoing unilateral TKA (n = 82: median age 58; range, 39-65; 36 [43.9%] male) or THA (n = 91: median age 59; range, 34-65; 42 [46.2%] male) during 2018. Oxford knee/hip scores, Oxford-Activity and Participation Questionnaire, and EuroQol-5 dimension (EQ-5D) scores were measured preoperatively and at 1 year when an employment questionnaire was also completed. Results Of patients who intended to RTW, 44 of 52 (84.6%) RTW by 1 year following TKA (at mean 14.8 ± 8.4 weeks) and 53 of 60 (88.3%) following THA (at mean 13.6 ± 7.5 weeks). Failure to RTW despite intent was associated with job physicality for TKA (P = .004) and negative preoperative EQ-5D for THA (P = .01). In patients unable to work before surgery due to joint disease, fewer RTW: 4 of 21 (19.0%) after TKA; and 6 of 17 (35.3%) after THA. Preoperative Oxford knee score >18.5 predicted RTW with 74% sensitivity (P < .001); preoperative Oxford hip score >19.5 predicted RTW with 75% sensitivity (P < .001). Preoperative EQ-5D indices were similarly predictive (P < .001). Conclusion In this United Kingdom study, preoperative intent to RTW was the most powerful predictor of actual RTW following TKA/THA. Where patients intend to RTW following TKA/THA, 85% RTW following TKA and 88% following THA.
Source: Al-Hourani K, MacDonald DJ, Turnbull GS, Breusch SJ, Scott CEH, The Journal of arthroplasty, 2021 Feb; Vol. 36 (2), pp. 434-441
Background Rotator cuff tears are a prevalent pathology in injured workers, causing significant economic ramifications and time away from work. To date, published articles on work outcomes after rotator cuff repair have not been cumulatively assessed and analyzed. Purpose To systematically review reports on return to work after rotator cuff repair and perform a meta-analysis on factors associated with improved work outcomes. Study Design Systematic review and meta-analysis; Level of evidence, 4. Methods A systematic review of return-to-work investigations was performed using PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in accordance with the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines. Individual studies reporting rates of return to previous work with level of evidence 1 to 4 were independently screened by 2 authors for inclusion, and study quality was assessed using the Methodologic Index for Non-randomized Studies and Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. Work outcome data were synthesized and analyzed using random effects modeling to identify differences in rates of return to previous work as a function of operative technique, work intensity, and workers' compensation status. Results Thirteen retrospective investigations comprising 1224 patients who underwent rotator cuff repair met inclusion criteria for this investigation. Across all investigations, a weighted average of 62.3% of patients returned to previous level of work at 8.15 ± 2.7 months (mean ± SD) after surgery. Based on random effects modeling, higher rates of return to previous work were identified with decreasing work intensity ( P < .001), while rates were similar between open and arthroscopic repair technique ( P = .418) and between workers' compensation and non-workers' compensation cohorts ( P = .089). All shoulder pain and functional outcome assessments demonstrated significant improvements at final follow-up when compared with baseline across all investigations. Conclusion The majority of injured workers undergoing rotator cuff repair return to previous work at approximately 8 months after surgery. Despite this, >35% of patients are unable to return to their previous work level after their repair procedure. Similar rates of return to work can be anticipated regardless of workers' compensation status and operative technique, while patients in occupations with higher physical intensity experience inferior work outcomes.
Source: Haunschild ED, Gilat R, Lavoie-Gagne O, Fu MC, Tauro T, Forsythe B, Cole BJ, The American journal of sports medicine, 2021 Jan 04.
Purpose The study's aim was to gain insights into factors influencing sustainable return to work following total knee arthroplasty (TKA). Design A descriptive multiple-case design was used. A case was defined as a worker's following TKA work disability situation. Settings The cases came from public hospitals in urban and semi-urban areas in Quebec (Canada) and involved mostly non-work-related TKAs. Subjects Workers had to be between 6 and 12 months post-TKA, have physical/manual jobs and currently employed. Their rehabilitation professionals and workplace representatives (employer and/or union) were also recruited, based on the work disability paradigm. Methods Semi-structured interviews, questionnaires on pain, physical work demands (workers only), and observation of the work activities of those workers back at work were used. Cases were compared and categorized for worker-perceived levels of difficulty in returning to or staying at work: little or no difficulty (n = 8); some difficulty (n = 5); not back at work due to excessive difficulty with their knee (n = 4). Results A total of 17 cases were constituted. In only one case, the worker benefitted from an interdisciplinary work rehabilitation approach. Results highlight the interplay among these factors: (1) the workers' perceptions of their residual symptoms and ability to manage them, (2) the interaction between work adjustments and tools offered by the employers and the workers' own strategies, and (3) perceptions of the workers' physical capacities. Conclusions Workers' who face high levels of work demands/difficulties and who have limited access to work adjustments and tools should be referred for work rehabilitation.
Source: Coutu MF, Gaudreault N, Major ME, Nastasia I, Dumais R, Deshaies A, Pettigrew S, Labrecque ME, Desmeules F, Maillette P, Clinical rehabilitation, 2020 Dec.
PurposeThis study aimed to identify factors contributing to the timing of return to work after surgical treatment of trapeziometacarpal joint osteoarthritis and to calculate the costs of lost productivity. Methods We included 627 patients with paid employment who underwent trapeziectomy and ligament reconstruction with tendon interposition. Time to return to work was measured through filling online questionnaires and analysed using survival analysis at 6 weeks and 3, 6 and 12 months after the surgery. Patients also filled in the Michigan Hand Outcomes Questionnaire. Costs of lost productivity were calculated using the human capital method. After 1 year, 78% of the patients returned to work. Results The median time to return to work was 12 weeks. Factors that significantly affected the time to return to work were occupational intensity (light, moderate or heavy physical labour), whether the dominant hand was treated and the Michigan Hand Outcomes Questionnaire work score and hand function score of the unoperated side at baseline. The costs of lost productivity were estimated at €11,000 on the patient level, resulting in €16.8 million on the Dutch population level per year.
Source: van der Oest MJW, Teunissen JS, Poelstra R, Feitz R, Burdorf A, Selles RW, Hand-Wrist Study Group, The Journal of hand surgery, European volume, 2020 Dec 07.