How should methods for return to work be evaluated?

"Measures to decrease early retirement are underway in many countries to increase the working population and lower costs. Sick leave is the normal pathway to early retirement and methods to enable persons on sick leave to return to work (RTW) earlier and at a higher rate are in focus. Using the term “RTW”, a search in PubMed resulted in about 300 papers, of which more than half have been published after 2008 and 20% during the last year alone. RTW has been the focus of many papers recently submitted to and published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health. In this issue, Aust and coworkers describe a large randomized Danish study to investigate if support by a trained staff will increase RTW. It is probably the largest ongoing RTW evaluation at the moment. The design is similar to studies of pharmaceutical drugs in phase III, involving a multicenter approach, evaluation committee, cost–benefit analyses, trial registration, and a huge budget. In contrast to most previous studies, it does not focus on a single diagnosis but on estimated prognosis. Established after a literature review, the intervention method is described as “biopsychosocial”. Compared to most other studies in this area, the Aust et al study has a high power. A recent systematic review of community and work-based measures to reduce sick leave among persons with musculoskeletal disorders found that the published literature consisted of rather small studies of limited quality. Furthermore, the effect was overestimated through biased publishing of positive studies."

Source : Järvholm, B. How should methods for return to work be evaluated? Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, vol. 38, no 2, 2012, p.  89-91 

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