The impact of early workplace-based return-to-work strategies on work absence duration: a 6-month longitudinal study following an occupational musculoskeletal injury

J Occup Environ Med. 2007 Sep;49(9):960-74. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31814b2e9f.


Objectives: To examine, using administrative and self-reported data, the relationship between early return-to-work (RTW) strategies and work absence duration.

Methods: Using a cohort of 632 claimants with work-related musculoskeletal injuries, Cox proportional hazard analyses were performed with RTW strategies measured 1 month after injury as predictors. Outcomes were 6-month self-reported work absence duration and time receiving wage replacement benefits from an administrative database.

Results: Work accommodation offer and acceptance and advice from health care provider (HCP) to the workplace on re-injury prevention were significant predictors of shorter work absence duration indexed by both self-report and administrative data. Receiving an ergonomic visit was a significant predictor of shorter duration receiving benefits only.

Conclusions: Analyses using administrative and self-reported indices of work absence generally converged. Work accommodation and targeted HCP communication with the workplace are critical for effective early RTW interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arm Injuries / epidemiology
  • Arm Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / epidemiology
  • Low Back Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / rehabilitation*
  • Occupational Health Services / economics
  • Occupational Health Services / organization & administration
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Rehabilitation, Vocational / methods
  • Sick Leave*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Work