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1. Citation: MacEachen, E., Clarke, J., Franche, R. L., & Irvin, E. (2006). Systematic review of the qualitative literature on return to work after injury. Scandinavian Journal Of Work, Environment & Health, 32(4), 257-269.
Keywords: meta-ethnographic approach, social relations, occupational health, sick leave, work, accidents, interpersonal relations, rehabilitation, organizational culture, recovery of function, time factors
Abstract: Background: Return to work pertains to the early return to the workplace prior to complete physical recovery. Some reports suggest that return to work is good practice because it promotes better recovery, leads to less time off work for the worker and lower compensation premium costs for the employer. These process-oriented dimensions of return to work are frequently described in the qualitative literature.

Objectives: To conduct a systematic review of the international qualitative research literature on return to work. In particular, the review focuses on musculoskeletal and pain-related injuries.

Search strategy: The authors searched for peer-reviewed papers published in English or French between 1990 and 2003. Electronic databases used included Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycInfo, Sociological Abstracts, ASSIA, and ABI. Grey literature and other peer-reviewed reports were collected from research centers such as the Workers Compensation Research Institute, the Institute for Work & Health in Canada, and the Institut de Recherche Robert-Sauvé en Santé et en Securité du Travial (IRSST).

Selection criteria: Findings from papers meeting relevance and quality criteria were synthesized using the meta-ethnographic approach. Studies were selected that 1) explored experiences of key players involved in return to work, 2) used qualitative methodology, and 3) focused on musculoskeletal and pain-related injuries.

Data collection and analysis: Two researchers independently reviewed each paper. Studies were assessed for methodological quality using a modified framework of the National Centre for Social Research. A consensus approach was used to resolve discrepancies between reviewers. When no consensus could be reached, a third reviewer was consulted.

Main results: Thirteen studies met the inclusion and quality assessment criteria. Eight key concepts were identified across the 13 studies: 1) the role of goodwill among parties, 2) relations between the worker and the system, 3) contact with worker between injury and return to work, 4) employer contact with physicians, 5) modified work, 6) role of unions in return to work, 7) role of supervisors in day to day social relations, 8) return to work and organizational environments.

Conclusions: This paper identifies key mechanisms of workplace practice, process, and environment that can affect the success of return to work. The findings illustrate the contribution that qualitative literature can make to important aspects of implementation in relation to return to work.
Link to Full Text:http://www.sjweh.fi/show_abstract.php?abstract_id=1009
Record Updated:2016-12-29
 

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