Practices of Return-to-Work Coordinators Working in Large Organizations

J Occup Rehabil. 2017 Mar;27(1):137-147. doi: 10.1007/s10926-016-9640-7.


Purpose Although the role of return-to-work coordinators (RTW coordinators) is associated with reducing long-term disabilities, little has been written about their practices. The objective of this study was to clearly identify their tasks and activities and the stakeholders with whom they collaborate. Methods A cross-sectional survey was conducted using a web-based self-administered questionnaire. Participant inclusion criteria were as follows: (1) working for a large organization with 500 or more employees; (2) being responsible for managing disabilities and coordinating the return-to-work process; and (3) having been involved in coordinating the return to work of at least one person in the past year. Results 195 RTW coordinators completed the questionnaire. The three tasks or activities rated as most important were applying laws, policies, and regulations related to work absences and return to work; contacting the absent worker; and planning the return to work. A nursing or occupational health and safety training background significantly influenced the RTW coordinators' practices. In addition, RTW coordinators collaborated mainly with workers and their supervisors. Conclusion Despite a wide variety of contexts and diverging definitions of competencies, a set of common RTW coordination practices appears to exist across industrialized countries. RTW coordinators with a training background in the health field seem better able to assimilate the various dimensions of work disability. Moreover, concerted action was found to be minimal and a far cry from recommendations. The practices defined could serve as a benchmark for describing RTW coordinators' responsibilities in greater detail and allow for cross-organization and cross-country comparisons.

Keywords: People with disabilities; Quebec; Rehabilitation; Return to work; Task performance and analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Health Services / methods*
  • Rehabilitation, Vocational / methods*
  • Return to Work*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires