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Concerns About Claiming, Postclaim Support, and Return to Work Planning

The Workplace's Impact on Return to Work

Gray, Shannon E., PhD; Sheehan, Luke R., MSc, Biostatistics; Lane, Tyler J., PhD; Jetha, Arif, PhD; Collie, Alex, PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: April 2019 - Volume 61 - Issue 4 - p e139–e145
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001549

Objective: The aim of this study was to determine how injured Australian workers perceived employer emotional (eg, empathy) and instrumental [eg, return-to-work (RTW) planning] support during the RTW process and examine associations between support and RTW.

Methods: Using data from the 2014 National Return to Work Survey of injured workers with a workers’ compensation claim, multinomial regression models examined relationships between support and RTW.

Results: Receiving support and developing RTW plans were significantly associated with a greater likelihood of RTW. When controlled for one another in a single model, postclaim support had the strongest association with RTW, with RTW planning also significantly and positively associated with RTW.

Conclusion: Provision of both emotional and instrumental support are important employer-led work disability management interventions. Research is required to develop strategies for increasing employer support to lead to improved RTW outcomes for injured workers.

Insurance Work and Health Group, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia (Dr Gray, Mr Sheehan, Drs Lane, Jetha, Collie), Institute for Work and Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Dr Jetha); Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Dr Jetha).

Address correspondence to: Shannon E. Gray, PhD, 553 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne, VIC 3004, Australia (

SG, LS, TL, and AC participated in the conception of the work and acquired the data; LS conducted the analysis; SG drafted the work and was responsible for subsequent revisions; all authors (SG, LS, TL, AJ, AC) interpreted the results and provided important intellectual content for the draft manuscripts. Furthermore, all authors approve the submitted version and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work and take public responsibility for it.

Data for the project are provided with the support of the following organizations: SafeWork Australia, WorkSafe Victoria, State Insurance Regulatory Authority of NSW, ReturntoWorkSA, WorkCover Tasmania, WorkSafe NT, Office of Industrial Relations QLD Government, WorkCover WA, Comcare, ACT Government. These organizations are all represented on the project advisory group, in addition to the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the AIGroup. The views expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the project funders, data providers, or members of the project advisory group.

The COMPARE (COMpensation Policy and Return to work Effectiveness) project is supported financially by SafeWork Australia and WorkSafe Victoria.

This study was completed at Monash University. Ethics approval was granted by Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee (October 8, 2014, project number CF14/2995-2014001663).

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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Copyright © 2019 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine