May 2017: PWHS postdoctoral fellow Esther Maas has been awarded a fellowship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as sprains and strains are the second most common cause of disability worldwide. Disability rates due to MSDs increased 45% from 1990 to 2010. MSDs are a major problem in the workforce, and account for the highest disability costs (yearly almost $15 billion) in Canada. Workplace interventions that aim to reduce disability duration for people with work-related MSDs show only limited effects. Policies that mandate certain workplace practices may be important to reduce work disability. Modified return-to-work (MRTW) is a key policy to prevent and reduce the work disability due to MSDs. MRTW gives workers the opportunity to gradually increase working hours and work load, and to limit or modify work tasks while recovering from in injury. Many Canadian employers offer MRTW, but its effectiveness is unknown. I have the opportunity to use unique data with information from workers in British Columbia (BC) with a MSD to investigate the effectiveness of MRTW to increase successful and sustainable RTW. I will perform this project in three phases:
- Define individual RTW processes during one year after injury,
- Investigate the relationship between worker characteristics and the RTW process, and
- Assess the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of MRTW in the RTW process.
The ultimate goal is to improve the implementation of MRTW and reduce the duration of work-disability for more successful and sustainable RTW. The research will be conducted at The Partnership of Work Health and Safety at the University of British Columbia (UBC). The Partnership brings together policy-makers, researchers and data resources from the UBC and the provincial workers’ compensation system. They address current and emerging issues of work-related health in BC, which ensures the impact of the study results on policy.