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WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation is an interdisciplinary, international journal which publishes high quality peer-reviewed manuscripts covering the entire scope of the occupation of work. The journal's subtitle has been deliberately laid out: The first goal is the prevention of illness, injury, and disability. When this goal is not achievable, the attention focuses on assessment to design client-centered intervention, rehabilitation, treatment, or controls that use scientific evidence to support best practice.
WORK occasionally publishes thematic issues, but in general, issues cover a wide range of topics such as ergonomic considerations with children, youth and students, the challenges facing an aging workforce, workplace violence, injury management, performing artists, ergonomic product evaluations, and the awareness of the political, cultural, and environmental determinants of health related to work.
Dr. Karen Jacobs, the founding editor, and her editorial board especially encourage the publication of research studies, clinical practice, case study reports, as well as personal narratives and critical reflections of lived work experiences (autoethnographic/autobiographic scholarship),
Sounding Board commentaries and
Speaking of Research articles which provide the foundation for better understanding research to facilitate knowledge dissemination.
Narrative Reflections on Occupational Transitions, a new column, is for persons who have successfully transitioned into, between, or out of occupations to tell their stories in a narrative form. With an internationally renowned editorial board,
WORK maintains high standards in the evaluation and publication of manuscripts. All manuscripts are reviewed expeditiously and published in a timely manner.
WORK prides itself on being an author-friendly journal.
WORK celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2015.
*WORK is affiliated with the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT)* *WORK is endorsed by the International Ergonomics Association (IEA)* *WORK gives out the yearly Cheryl Bennett Best Paper Award*
Abstract: The recent trend towards cooperative management and prevention of workplace injuries has introduced numerous health and safety actors to the workplace with varying amounts and types of expertise. The purpose of this qualitative research project was to explore the understandings of risk as experienced by food service workers (FSW) and how these compare with an 'expert' in risk assessment. In total 13 FSW, selected based on age, work location, and gender, and one experienced Ergonomist participated…in the study. In-depth semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with each participant and transcripts of the interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis by drawing on methods closely related to grounded theory. The findings of this study indicated that the risks for occupational injury as experienced by FSW were multi-dimensional in nature representing not only the physical requirements of the individual's job, but also the social interactions of the FSW with their coworkers, management, and the organization. FSW were also found to be a rich source of knowledge and experience concerning occupational risk and may be under-utilized when designing interventions. The results of this study support a cooperative team approach to reduce the risks of injury in the workplace, with a specific emphasis on inclusion of the worker.
Abstract: Many work injuries and their associated disabilities are preventable, but effective prevention requires coordinated action by multiple stakeholders. In trying to achieve coordinated action occupational health practitioners can learn valuable lessons from systems theory, knowledge transfer and action research. Systems theory provides a broad view of the factors leading to injury and disability and a means to refocus stakeholder energies from mutual blaming to effective strategies for system change. Experiences from knowledge…transfer will help adopt a stakeholder-centered approach that will facilitate the concrete application of the best and most current occupational health knowledge. Action research is a methodology endorsed by the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control, which provide methods for successfully engaging stakeholders needed to attain sustainable change. By combining concepts from the three fields we propose MAPAC (Mobilize, Assess, Plan, Act, Check), a five-step framework for developing projects aimed at decreasing occupational injury and disability. Although most practitioners would be familiar with some of the concepts, we believe an explicit framework linked to transferable knowledge from these diverse fields can help design and implement effective programs. We provide examples of model application in workers compensation and in the healthcare workplace.
Keywords: MAPAC, occupational injury, occupational disability, action research, knowledge transfer
Abstract: Workplaces comprise a large component of life partcipation. The complexity of work organization makes it challenging to understand how the environment impacts the health of workers and who is responsible for creating a health workplace. This investigation sought to understand the views of workers about workplace health. A qualitative approach was used to gain understanding of workers' experiences of how work organization (WO) impacts their health and needs to change. Four individual interviews and 7 focus…groups with workers were conducted. Data were thematically analyzed. Findings comprised two common themes: 1. The need for support and respect in the work place; and 2. The need for organizational commitment to safe work practices and healthy work environments. Findings suggest workers want and need to be involved in creating a healthy workplace. Opportunities to involve workers more in workplace health are discussed.
Keywords: Work organization, workplace health, social support, qualitative research, worker perspective
Abstract: Despite evidence that inter-personal relationships are important in human resource management, little is understood about the nature of workplace social support in a disability context, or what features of support are important to the success of return-to-work programs. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore workplace disability…support from worker and supervisory perspectives and to identify salient features for work re-entry. A total of 8 supervisors and 18 previously injured workers from a range of work units in a Canadian municipality were interviewed, and their views concerning supportive and unsupportive behaviours in work-re-entry situations were recorded and analyzed. A full range of social support dimensions were reported to be relevant, and were seen as arising from a variety of sources (e.g. supervisor, co-workers, disability manager, work unit, and outside of work). Respondents identified trust, communication and knowledge of disability as key precursors to a successful return-to-work process. Future research should explore the specific contributions of support to work rehabilitation outcomes as well as interventions to enhance available supports.
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate and evaluate the current workplace management of rotator cuff injuries in a manufacturing plant. The secondary aims were to examine the impact of the company's return-to-work processes, compare outcomes to current industry standards for work (re)entry and to identify the components that characterized this workplace--based return-to-work (RTW) program. This investigation involved a case study approach comprised of an examination of the program context using interviews,…onsite visits, a document review and a retrospective analysis of the RTW experiences of 184 workers with shoulder injuries. Findings revealed that the workplace-based RTW program was consistent with and shaped by the organizational culture of problem solving, knowledge exchange and equitable participation of workers, supervisors and health professionals. These components contributed to the program in achieving the following outcomes for workers with shoulder injuries. One-third of workers were placed on modified duties within three days, 56% of workers who engaged in an early RTW program returned to work within one month. Overall, 87.8% of workers with rotator cuff injuries successfully returned to pre-injury work. The implications of developing capacity for workplace-based programs to manage injuries at work are discussed.
Abstract: This study examined system barriers that precluded injured workers from accessing services and supports in the return-to-work (RTW) process. A grounded theory approach was used to investigate injured worker experiences. Methods included in-depth telephone interviews and the constant comparative method to analyze the data. Findings revealed that consumers experienced tensions or a tug-of-war between the RTW system, the health care system, and in accessing and using knowledge. Over time consumers reflected upon these…tensions and initiated strategies to enhance return to function and RTW. Insights from consumer-driven strategies that might inform future policy change and promote positive service delivery for injured workers are examined.
Keywords: Return to work, barriers, facilitators, consumer driven strategies, knowledge transfer
Abstract: The number of adults with hearing loss who continue to work later in life is growing. Persons with hearing loss are generally unaware of the role that audiologists, occupational therapists, and vocational rehabilitation counsellors might play in the assessment of the workplace environment and appropriate accommodations. Three narratives of adults with hearing loss are used to demonstrate the gaps in accessing information, technology and services needed to maintain optimal work performance and productivity. The lack of…recognition of the multidimensional needs of older workers with hearing loss and the lack of timely coordination of services led to all three persons acting alone in trying to access services and supports. In two of the three cases the impact of the hearing loss resulted in further unexpected losses such as the loss of employment and the loss of a worker-identity. There is an urgent need for partnering with persons who are hard of hearing to develop new strategies for knowledge exchange, more thorough assessment of hearing demands and modifications in the workplace, and interdisciplinary approaches to service specific to the needs of hard of hearing persons.
Keywords: Hearing loss, hard of hearing, adults, workplace communication
Abstract: Teamwork, collaboration and interprofessional care are becoming the new standard in health care, and service delivery in work practice is no exception. Most rehabilitation professionals believe that they intuitively know how to work collaboratively with others such as workers, employers, insurers and other professionals. However, little information is available that can assist rehabilitation professionals in enacting authentic transdisciplinary approaches in work practice contexts. A qualitative study was designed using a grounded theory…approach, comprised of observations and interviews, to understand the social processes among team members in enacting a transdisciplinary approach in a work rehabilitation clinic. Findings suggest that team members consciously attended to a team approach through nurturing consensus, nurturing professional synergy, and nurturing a learning culture. These processes enabled this team to work in concert with clients who had chronic disabilities in achieving solution focused goals for returning to work and improving functioning. Implications for achieving greater collaborative synergies among stakeholders in return to work settings and in the training of new rehabilitation professionals are explored.
Keywords: Transdisciplinary team work, work rehabilitation, collaboration
Abstract: Professional and student musicians are at high risk of acquiring a playing-related injury at some point in their careers. Yet, specialized healthcare for musicians is scarce and expensive for most self-employed musicians. Diagnosing these injuries is challenging, and simply taking a break from an activity that has caused physical problems does not address the ergonomic and biomechanic causes of the problem. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that musicians are reluctant to seek care, and…when they do, lack trust in the care that is provided to them. This article is a case presentation of the experiences of a graduate student musician studying performance at a North American university. A narrative style is used to reflect the quality and nature of experiences this musician encountered, followed by a discussion of how to advance a more participatory and holistic approach to enabling return to function.
Keywords: Playing-related injuries, musicians' injuries, case study
Abstract: As today's workplaces strive toward a climate of inclusiveness for persons with disabilities, much work remains for employers in developing a process to achieve this ideal. While survivors of mental illness are encouraged to disclose related concerns to their employer, such sharing of personal information remains daunting. Similarly, employers attempting to assist the process are often awed by the extent of collaborations involved in integrating employees with mental health issues back to work as well as…concern about compliance with human rights legislation. Needed accommodations in terms of approach to the work itself are often simple; however substantiating the need for adjustments is more complex. This case study introduces a model to support the development of shared goals and shared understandings for return to work (RTW) among workers with mental health concerns, employers, co-workers and therapists. The model of occupational competence is used as a basis to guide dialogue, identify challenges and generate solutions that take into consideration a worker's preferences, sensitivities, culture and capacities in relationship to the occupational demands in a given workplace environment. A case study is used to demonstrate the potential utility of the model in assisting stakeholders to strengthen collaborations and partnering to achieve a shared understanding of worker and workplace needs.
Abstract: Treatment of bipolar affective disorder is often difficult and lengthy. Enabling participation in a return to work process is equally daunting, primarily due to the dramatic and oftentimes sudden shifts in mood and thought. The following case study attempts to illustrate the complicated process of return to [and stay at] work for an individual who has mixed bipolar affective disorder. Work has always played a significant role in Ray's life and remains a valued goal and…accomplishment for Ray. Work has been a means to structure and routine, and it has been from this routine that wellness has become possible for Ray. The metaphor, "I'm still swimming" helps to illustrate the continual treading of water, which both Ray and his occupational therapist [first author] have experienced over the past 6 years. This case study illustrates the strategies employed in maximizing the person-environment-occupation fit for Ray, as well as the importance of collaboration and partnership in the return-to-work process. It is also meant to stimulate thought and discussion about what is important for occupational therapists, and other health professionals to consider, when attempting the task of return-to-work for an individual with mixed bipolar affective disorder.
Abstract: More efforts are needed to help stakeholders who are geographically isolated from one another become more collaborative in their approach to return-to-work (RTW). A review of the literature on team processes, and insights from the experiences of a federally funded Round Table Project on Safe and Timely Return to Function and Return to Work were used to inform strategies that might enhance collaboration among health professionals and stakeholders in injury and illness management and return-to-work. A…case study serves to highlight the individual, identifies the problem and provides a potential solution at the broader service and system levels. It becomes evident that there is a need for a common language as well as policies that emphasize the importance of fostering awareness of interprofessional potentials and contributions of all stakeholders. Establishing shared goals, and building capacity for sustaining collaboration when multi-stakeholders do not function in the same physical location, but work virtually, might maximize effectiveness, efficiency and productivity.
Keywords: Collaboration, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, return-to-work, team care