2015-10-01 12:00 - Messages

Work-related rehabilitation aftercare for patients with musculoskeletal disorders

Results of a randomized-controlled multicenter trial
There is evidence that rehabilitation with a multidisciplinary focus on work-related demands effectively improves work ability and quickens return to work in patients with musculoskeletal disorders. There could be benefits to the transfer of work-related components into rehabilitation aftercare. We examined the effectiveness of an intensified work-related rehabilitation aftercare program compared with standard intensified rehabilitation aftercare in Germany on work ability. We randomly assigned 307 patients with musculoskeletal disorders from 11 rehabilitation centers to an aftercare program with work-related functional capacity training, work-related psychosocial groups, social counseling, relaxation training and exercise therapy (intervention group), or the usual aftercare program consisting of only exercise therapy (control group). The 6-month follow-up questionnaire was completed by 78.5% of patients. There was no statistically relevant between-group difference in follow-up primary (work ability) and secondary outcomes (e.g. health-related quality of life, sick leave duration). Significant improvements were observed within both the intervention and the control groups. Severely disabled participants in the intervention group had better physical functioning and shorter sick leave duration after 6 months compared with severely disabled patients in the control group. A partial replacement of standard exercise therapy by a more work-related therapy does not seem to improve work ability superiorly. Improved aftercare treatment may require a focus on employer participation and involvement within the actual work environment.

Source: Knapp, Sebastian; Briest, Juliane; Bethge, Matthias. International Journal of Rehabilitation Research, September 2015, Volume 38, Issue 3, p. 226-232.

Implementation of the Danish return-to-work program

Process evaluation of a trial in 21 Danish municipalities
Objectives: The aim of this study was to evaluate the implementation of the Danish national return-to-work (RTW) program in 21 Danish municipalities.
Methods: We conducted a structured process evaluation on (i) reach and recruitment, (ii) fidelity, (iii) dose-delivered, (iv) dose-received, and (v) context by formulating 29 implementation criteria and analyzing qualitative and quantitative data from administrative records, interviews, field notes, and questionnaires.
Results: All municipalities integrated the basic features of the RTW program into the existing framework of the sickness benefit management system to an acceptable degree, ie, establishment of RTW teams, participation of RTW team members in the training courses, and following the general procedures of the program. However, the level of implementation varied considerably between the municipalities, particularly with respect to fidelity (defined as implementation consistent with the principles of the interdisciplinary RTW process). Five municipalities had high and eight had low fidelity scores. Similar large differences were found with regard to dose-delivered, particularly in the quality of cooperation with beneficiaries, employers, and general practitioners. Only 50% of the first consultations with the RTW coordinator were conducted in time. Among participants who were employed when their sickness absence period started, only 9% had at least one meeting with their workplace.
Conclusion: It was feasible to implement the basic features of the Danish RTW program, however, large variations existed between municipalities. Establishment of well-functioning interdisciplinary RTW teams might require more time and resources, while ensuring early assessment and more frequent cooperation with employers might need more general adjustments in the Danish sickness benefit system.

Source: Aust B, Nielsen MBD, Grundtvig G, Buchardt HL, Ferm L, Andersen I, Lund TL, Jelle MOC, Andersen MF, Hansen JV, Tverborgvik T, Helverskov T, Bjorner JB, Rugulies R, Ørbæk P, Winzor G, Bültmann U, Poulsen OM. Scand J Work Environ Health, 2015. 

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