This study examined the interplay between workplace factors (contact from the workplace RTW coordinator and the supervisor reaction to the injury); and health care provider (HCP) factors (HCP contact with the workplace and the HCP giving a return to work date) and RTW. We did this using a longitudinal cohort of workers’ compensation claimants with psychological and musculoskeletal injuries from Victoria Australia. Workplace and HCP factors were measured as part of a survey administered to 869 claimants, as soon as possible after their claim was accepted. RTW was assessed using self-report in a follow-up survey administered approximately 6 months after the baseline survey (response rate to the 6-month survey was 75%). The study sample was workers who were off work at the baseline survey, who responded to the 6-month follow-up survey (N = 260).
Workplace factors were related. When the respondent’s supervisor had a positive reaction to their injury, 68% had also been contacted by their RTW coordinator. Conversely, when the supervisor reaction was not positive, only 41% had been contacted. HCP factors also overlapped. When the HCP was in contact with the workplace, 29% of the time they had given a RTW date. When the HCP was not in contact with the workplace they had given a RTW date 14% of the time. Over the 6-month period 46% of the sample returned to work. Workplace factors had additive contributions on likelihood of RTW. Claimants with a positive supervisor reaction and RTW coordinator contact had an odds of returning to work of 3.55 (95% CI: 1.60–7.90), compared to claimants with a supervisor reaction that was not positive and no contact from their RTW coordinator. The relationship between HCP factors was less clear. Examinations of workplace and HCP factors on RTW should consider interplay between these factors.
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