Return to work after cancer

There is an increasing amount of information available for line managers, human resources and occupational health professionals on helping individuals with cancer stay in work.
However, until this research, there had been a lack of evidence on specific health and safety issues and effective approaches to risk assessment and risk management for occupational safety and health (OSH) professionals, and others, to support those undergoing treatment or returning to work after cancer.
The research addresses this evidence gap by:
- seeking to understand the health and safety implications of returning to work after cancer and cancer treatment
- identifying what employers can do to facilitate return to work and what is good practice in dealing with health and safety issues


Effectiveness of Occupational Therapy Interventions for Lower-Extremity Musculoskeletal Disorders

A Systematic Review
Lower-extremity (LE) musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) can have a major impact on the ability to carry out daily activities. The effectiveness of interventions must be examined to enable occupational therapy practitioners to deliver the most appropriate services. This systematic review examined the literature published between 1995 and July 2014 that investigated the effectiveness of occupational therapy interventions for LE MSDs. Forty-three articles met the criteria and were reviewed. Occupational therapy interventions varied on the basis of population subgroup: hip fracture, LE joint replacement, LE amputation or limb loss, and nonsurgical osteoarthritis and pain. The results indicate an overall strong role for occupational therapy in treating clients with LE MSDs. Activity pacing is an effective intervention for nonsurgical LE MSDs, and multidisciplinary rehabilitation is effective for LE joint replacement and amputation. Further research on specific occupational therapy interventions in this important area is needed.

Source: Dorsey, J., & Bradshaw, M. (2017). American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71(1).

Rehabilitation and return to work after cancer: Literature review

As treatments have improved, there are more and more people surviving cancer in Europe. While most cancer survivors return to work after treatment, many face long-term symptoms and impairments that can make it difficult for them to do so.
This report provides an overview of the relevant scientific literature, conducted to collect information on existing initiatives, policies and practices on rehabilitation and return to work after cancer and gather examples of successful interventions.


Joint association of multimorbidity and work ability with risk of long-term sickness absence

A prospective cohort study with register follow-up
Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine the joint association of multimorbidity and work ability with the risk of long-term sickness absence (LTSA) in the general working population.
Methods: Cox regression analysis censoring for competing events (statutory retirement, early retirement, disability pension, immigration, or death) was performed to estimate the joint association of chronic diseases and work ability in relation to physical and mental demands of the job with the prospective risk for LTSA (defined as ≥6 consecutive weeks during 2-year follow-up) among 10 427 wage earners from the general working population (2010 Danish Work Environment Cohort Study). Control variables were age, gender, psychosocial work environment, smoking, leisure physical activity, body mass index, job group, and previous LTSA.
Results: Of the 10 427 respondents, 56.8% had experienced ≥1 chronic disease at baseline. The fully adjusted model showed an association between number of chronic diseases and risk of LTSA. This association was stronger among employees with poor work ability (either physical or mental). Compared to employees with no diseases and good physical work ability, the risk estimate for LTSA was 1.95 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.50–2.52] for employees with ≥3 chronic diseases and good physical work ability, whereas it was 3.60 (95% CI 2.50–5.19) for those with ≥3 chronic diseases and poor physical work ability. Overall, the joint association of chronic disease and work ability with LTSA appears to be additive.
Conclusions: Poor work ability combined with ≥1 chronic diseases is associated with high risk of long-term sickness absence in the general working population. Initiatives to improve or maintain work ability should be highly prioritized to secure sustainable employability among workers with ≥1 chronic diseases.p>

Source: Sundstrup, E., Jakobsen, M. D., Mortensen, O. S., & Andersen, L. L. (2017). Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health.

Troubles musculosquelettiques

Revue réaliste sur les bases théoriques des programmes de réadaptation incluant le milieu de travail
Une revue réaliste portant sur un ensemble de programmes de réadaptation au travail incluant une intervention en milieu de travail a été réalisée. Selon cette méthode, les programmes se caractérisent par trois éléments principaux : le contexte (C), qui représente les caractéristiques des conditions dans lesquelles les programmes sont mis en place et les composantes de ces derniers; les mécanismes (M), qui décrivent ce qui fait en sorte qu'un programme parvient à atteindre ses résultats; et les résultats (O, pour outcomes), soit les effets prévus et imprévus d'un programme, résultant de l'interaction de différents mécanismes, dans différents contextes.


Effectiveness of Occupational Therapy Interventions for Adults With Musculoskeletal Conditions of the Forearm, Wrist, and Hand

A Systematic Review
Occupational therapy practitioners are key health care providers for people with musculoskeletal disorders of the distal upper extremity. It is imperative that practitioners understand the most effective and efficient means for remediating impairments and supporting clients in progressing to independence in purposeful occupations. This systematic review provides an update to a previous review by summarizing articles published between 2006 and July 2014 related to the focused question, What is the evidence for the effect of occupational therapy interventions on functional outcomes for adults with musculoskeletal disorders of the forearm, wrist, and hand? A total of 59 articles were reviewed. Evidence for interventions was synthesized by condition within bone, joint, and general hand disorders; peripheral nerve disorders; and tendon disorders. The strongest evidence supports postsurgical early active motion protocols and splinting for various conditions. Very few studies have examined occupation-based interventions. Implications for occupational therapy practice and research are provided.

Source: Roll, S. C., & Hardison, M. E. (2017). American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71(1).

Factors Associated With Success in an Occupational Rehabilitation Program for Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders are a significant burden; however, no consensus has been reached on how to maximize occupational rehabilitation programs for people with these disorders, and the impact of simulating work tasks as a mode of intervention has not been well examined. In this retrospective cohort study, the authors used logistic regression to identify client and program factors predicting success for 95 clients in a general occupational rehabilitation program and 71 clients in a comprehensive occupational rehabilitation program. The final predictive model for general rehabilitation included gender, number of sessions completed, and performance of work simulation activities. Maximum hours per session was the only significant predictor of success in the comprehensive rehabilitation program. This study identifies new factors associated with success in occupational rehabilitation, specifically highlighting the importance of intensity (i.e., session length and number of sessions) of therapy and occupation-based activities for this population.

Source: Hardison, M. E., & Roll, S. C. (2017). American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71(1).

An Intervention Bundle to Facilitate Return to Work for Burn-Injured Workers

Report From a Burn Model System Investigation
Rates of return to work (RTW) after burn injury vary. A 2012 systematic review of the burn literature reported that nearly 28% of all adult burn survivors never return to any form of employment. These authors called for interventions designed to assist survivors' ability to function in an employed capacity. In 2010, our burn center outpatient clinic instituted an intervention aimed to return injured workers to employment within 90 days of their insurance claims. The interventions include patient/family education focused on recovery rather than disability, employer contact and education by the vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselor, physician recommendations for work accommodations, provision of employee status letters, and Activity Prescription Forms (APFs). The purpose of this study is to report on the effectiveness of these interventions. Following institutional review board (IRB) approval, medical records of adults with occupation-related burn injuries and receiving care at a single regional burn center from June 2010 to July 2015 were reviewed. Data on patient and injury characteristics and outpatient VR services provided were collected. The primary outcome of interest was the percentage of patients who RTW; 338 individuals met study entry criteria. The VR counselor evaluated all patients. All patients received an employer letter(s) and APF documentation. Workplace accommodations were provided to more than 30% of patients. RTW rate was 93%, with an average of 24 days from injury to RTW. In an intervention bundle involving the patient, employer, Workers' compensation, and the burn clinic staff, injured workers achieved a high rate of RTW. Although we cannot correlate individual bundle components to outcome, we postulate that the combination of employer/employee/insurer engagement and flexibility contributed to the success of this program.

Source: Carrougher, G. J., Brych, S. B., Pham, T. N., Mandell, S. P., & Gibran, N. S. (2017). Journal of Burn Care & Research, 38(1), e70-e78.

The role of health-care providers in the workers' compensation system and the return-to-work process

International research has generated strong evidence that health-care providers have a key role in the return-to-work (RTW) process. However, pressure on consultation time, administrative challenges and limited knowledge about a patient's workplace can thwart meaningful engagement. This multi-jurisdictional, two-year study focused on health-care providers' experiences within the workers' compensation system and their role in the RTW process.


Development and validation of a prediction model for long-term sickness absence based on occupational health survey variables

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to develop and validate a prediction model for identifying employees at increased risk of long-term sickness absence (LTSA), by using variables commonly measured in occupational health surveys. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Based on the literature, 15 predictor variables were retrieved from the DAnish National working Environment Survey (DANES) and included in a model predicting incident LTSA (>/=4 consecutive weeks) during 1-year follow-up in a sample of 4000 DANES participants. The 15-predictor model was reduced by backward stepwise statistical techniques and then validated in a sample of 2524 DANES participants, not included in the development sample. Identification of employees at increased LTSA risk was investigated by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis; the area-under-the-ROC-curve (AUC) reflected discrimination between employees with and without LTSA during follow-up. RESULTS: The 15-predictor model was reduced to a 9-predictor model including age, gender, education, self-rated health, mental health, prior LTSA, work ability, emotional job demands, and recognition by the management. Discrimination by the 9-predictor model was significant (AUC = 0.68; 95% CI 0.61-0.76), but not practically useful. CONCLUSIONS: A prediction model based on occupational health survey variables identified employees with an increased LTSA risk, but should be further developed into a practically useful tool to predict the risk of LTSA in the general working population.

Source: Roelen, C., Thorsen, S., Heymans, M., Twisk, J., Bültmann, U., & Bjørner, J. (2016). Disability and Rehabilitation, 1-8.

Costs and Work Loss Burden of Diagnosed Opioid Abuse Among Employees on Workers Compensation or Short-term Disability

Objective: To compare 12-month healthcare costs between employees with versus without diagnosed opioid abuse within 12 months after an injury-related workers' compensation (WC) or short-term disability (STD) claim.
Methods: Retrospective study using 2003 to 2014 US insurance claims linked to administrative data on WC/STD claims. Multivariable models compared healthcare costs between employees with versus without diagnosed opioid abuse.
Results: Study included 107,975 opioid-treated employees with an injury-related WC or STD claim. Mean number of opioid prescription fills and adjusted total healthcare costs were substantially greater in employees with diagnosed opioid abuse versus without (WC: 13.4 vs. 4.5, P?<?0.001; $18,073 vs. $8470, P?<?0.001; STD: 13.7 vs. 4.5, P?<?0.001; $25,693 vs. $14,939, P?<?0.001).
Conclusion: Opioids are commonly prescribed to employees with injury-related WC/STD claims. Employers may benefit from proactively addressing the issue of opioid abuse in these populations.

Source: Johnston, S. S., Alexander, A. H., Masters, E. T., Mardekian, J., Semel, D., Malangone-Monaco, E., ... & Sadosky, A. (2016). Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 58(11), 1087-1097.

Effects of a randomized controlled intervention trial on return to work and health care utilization after long-term sickness absence

BACKGROUND: The aim of the RCT study was to investigate if the effect of a multidisciplinary intervention on return to work (RTW) and health care utilization differed by participants' self-reported health status at baseline, defined by a) level of somatic symptoms, b) health anxiety and c) self-reported general health. METHODS: A total of 443 individuals were randomized to the intervention (n = 301) or the control group (n = 142) and responded to a questionnaire measuring health status at baseline. Participants were followed in registries measuring RTW and health care utilization. Relative risk (RR) and odds ratio (OR) were used as measures of associations. Results were adjusted for gender, age, educational level, work ability and previous sick leave. RESULTS: Among all responders we found no effect of the intervention on RTW. Among participants with low health anxiety, the one-year probability of RTW was lower in the intervention than in the control group (RR = 0.79 95 % CI 0.68-0.93), but for those with high health anxiety there was no difference between the groups (RR = 1.15 95 % CI 0.84-1.57). Neither general health nor somatic symptoms modified the effect of the intervention on RTW. The intervention had no effect on health care utilization. CONCLUSIONS: The multidisciplinary intervention did not facilitate RTW or decrease health care utilization compared to ordinary case management in subgroups with multiple somatic symptoms, health anxiety or low self-rated health. However, the intervention resulted in a reduced chance of RTW among participants with low health anxiety levels.

Source: Momsen, A. M. H., Stapelfeldt, C. M., Nielsen, C. V., Nielsen, M. B. D., Aust, B., Rugulies, R., & Jensen, C. (2016). BMC Public Health, 16(1), 1149.

Engaging Employers to Prevent Disability

The Journal is honored to be publishing this special issue and grateful to all of the very talented contributors involved. The papers in this issue of the Journal provide not only a state-of-the-art review of employer factors and interventions but also provide information about research design challenges and recommendations that will be useful for anyone planning research in this domain. Practitioners will also appreciate the efforts to include information from the “grey literature” and to highlight issues of employer decision-making and implementation. All of the papers have been published as “Open Access” and can be accessed freely on the SpringerLink website. We trust that you will find this work helpful in your efforts to improve the understanding, prevention, and management of work disability.

Source: (2016). Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 26(4).

Managerial abuse and the process of absence among mental health staff

Managers' abuse of subordinates is a common form of unethical behaviour in workplaces. When exposed to such abuse, employees may go absent from work. We propose two possible explanations for employee absence in response to managerial abuse: a sociological explanation based on perceptions of organizational justice and a psychological explanation based on psychological strain. Both are tested using data from a sample of 1472 mental health workers. The occurrence, duration and frequency of absence are investigated using a hurdle model. Managerial abuse is found to be associated with the occurrence of absence through both perceptions of organizational justice and psychological strain. Distributive justice and depression are especially significant in explaining the relationship between abuse and absence. Once absent, duration of absence is not further affected by managerial abuse but is still linked to depression and distributive justice, whereas frequency of absence is linked to bullying and depression.

Source: Wood, S., Niven, K., & Braeken, J. (2016). Work, Employment & Society.

Chronic Condition Combinations and Productivity Loss Among Employed Nonelderly Adults (18 to 64 Years)

Objective: We examined the relationship between specific chronic condition combinations and productivity loss measured by missed work days among nonelderly employed adults with at least two physical chronic conditions of arthritis, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, and hypertension.
Methods: We analyzed data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey for the years 2004 to 2012.
Results: Adults with arthritis/diabetes/heart disease had the highest average missed work days (14.42). In the adjusted model, compared with adults with arthritis/hypertension, adults with diabetes/heart disease and arthritis/heart disease/hypertension had significantly higher missed work days, while adults with diabetes/hypertension had significantly lower missed work days.
Conclusion: Specific chronic condition combinations have a high burden of disease in terms of productivity loss. Workplace health programs that address multiple health conditions at the same time should be implemented to reduce missed work days.

Source: Meraya, A. M., & Sambamoorthi, U. (2016). Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, 58(10), 974-978.

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