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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: Ergonomics is commonly known as "the scientific study of human work" [14, p. 3] and "the application of scientific information concerning human beings to the design of objects, systems, and environments" (p. 4). The American Occupational Therapy Association defines occupational therapy as "skilled treatment that helps individuals achieve independence in all facets of their lives. It gives people the 'skills for the job of living' necessary for independent and satisfying lives ." Both professions…share common backgrounds. Occupational therapy has been involved in health care and ergonomics is looking for its place in the health care field.
Abstract: Determination of the cognitive and behavioural demands of work is an important part of holistic workplace intervention. Attention to these factors is especially important when developing return-to-work programs for persons with reduced cognitive, behavioural or psycho-emotional capacity, and when designing risk management programs in organizations. Occupational therapists have the background knowledge and skills to assess these components of work, but often lack valid and reliable measurement tools. This paper reports on three…field studies that assessed the reliability and validity of ratings made by novice users of the City of Toronto Job Demands Analysis, which includes a measure of cognitive and behavioural work demands. Numerous challenges to accuracy and reliability that are common to empirical measurement were disclosed, including the necessity for clear and strong definitions, and the importance of thorough rater training. Implications for therapist training and mentorship are discussed.
Keywords: Job analysis, task performance and analysis, cognitive performance, work redesign, test reliability, test validity
Abstract: The predictive validity of a Functional Capacity Evaluation, the Physical Work Performance Evaluation (PWPE), was examined in 30 workers compensation patients with musculoskeletal dysfunction who participated in an industrial rehabilitation program. Return-to-work recommendations were made by comparing the discharge PWPE to the physical requirements of the job. Kappa coefficients were used to compare PWPE recommendations to actual work at discharge, 3 months and 6 months. Substantial agreement was found between PWPE recommendations…at all three follow-up points. This study provides preliminary evidence in support of the predictive validity of the PWPE for making return-to-work recommendations at the conclusion of an industrial rehabilitation program.
Abstract: Objectives: This paper summarizes a series of studies of the effectiveness of ergonomically based functional screening tests for post offer pre-placement of applicants for physically demanding jobs, and their relationship to reducing worker compensation injuries. Three predictive validation studies and a meta-analysis of injury rates pre- and post-implementation of physical ability testing at 175 locations are included. Methods: The strength and energy expenditure demands of physically-strenuous warehouse jobs in three…industries were documented through ergonomic analysis. A battery of strength and endurance tests were developed to assess applicants' abilities to meet the measured physical demands. Predictive validation studies were performed for the jobs in each of the three industries. In each study, new-hires were given the physical ability test battery and then placed on the job. Management was not informed of the results of the tests. Injury experience and work history were then monitored over a two year period in each study. Injury rates and retention were then compared for individuals who passed and individuals who failed the battery. As the battery was implemented in other locations, the injury rate for individuals starting employment in the year prior to implementation was compared to the injury rate for individuals starting employment in the year after implementation. Conclusions: A meta-analysis of the three predictive validation studies indicated that new-hires who passed the battery had a 47% lower worker compensation injury rate and 21% higher retention. A meta-analysis of the 175 pre/post-implementation studies indicated a 41% reduction in worker compensation injuries associated with implementation of ergonomically based physical ability tests.
Keywords: Validation, post offer, pre-placement, functional testing, adverse impact
Abstract: Background and purpose: Nursing injuries are alarmingly high in the healthcare system. The rate of injuries adds to the shortage of nurses that are already employed. Preventing nursing injuries has focused on utilizing patient handling equipment. This project used post offer pre employment testing to attempt to control the injuries of nurses in a healthcare facility. Outcomes: Injuries were significantly lower in the employment pool that was tested when compared the nursing staff that had not been tested.…Five injuries were reported in the tested group, resulting in $1,778 spent on the injuries, whereas the non-tested group had 54 injuries totaling $26,208. The total return on investment by this program was $4,541,059. Discussion: Post Offer Pre employment testing can be a cost effective way to decrease the amount of injuries with nursing staff.
Keywords: Nursing injuries, post offer pre employment testing, industrial rehabilitation, occupational therapy
Abstract: Traditional treatment of work-related musculoskeletal disorders focuses on the body functions and body structures aspects of the injury, with little or no attention paid to ergonomics as a form of treatment. The use of ergonomics in preventing disability in injured workers is a relatively new area of study. There are a number of factors that may contribute to the lack of emphasis on ergonomic interventions in the prevention of disability following musculoskeletal injury. For instance, a…review of the knowledge base suggests that there is a lack of a formal conceptualization or standardized approach to ergonomics in the return to work process. In part, this lack of consistency may be due to the varied disciplinary backgrounds of ergonomists, leading individuals to view ergonomics from a specific perspective, rather than utilizing a transdisciplinary approach. The purpose of this paper is to introduce a new practice model of occupational rehabilitation ergonomics. The model draws upon the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) and merges this with basic ergonomic and rehabilitation principles.
Abstract: This paper will attempt to apply the occupational therapy framework  along with an evidence-based approach and an occupation-based intervention with a population of workers with chronic low back pain (CLBP) to help them return to work and maintain their work status. This paper will focus primarily on those clients with CLBP who still have a link to their employment but who do not perceive themselves as being capable to go back to their job despite…conflicting opinions from other stakeholders (primary health care professionals, employer or insurer). They are being evaluated in occupational therapy shortly before return to work and followed until their optimal functional capacities are reached. This means that either all functional goals related to the actual physical demands of their job have been reached or that further treatment does not result in functional improvement.
Keywords: Chronic low back pain, musculoskeletal, return to work, evidence-based, occupation-based, occupational therapy framework
Abstract: Objective: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore and better understand (a) why aging workers continue to work past retirement age, (b) how aware occupational therapists are of the needs of the growing demographic of the aging worker, and (c) potential occupational therapy interventions that could better help this population. Method: This study was conducted with a mixed method design approach, specifically the parallel/simultaneous design, which consisted of both qualitative and quantitative…investigation. The quantitative portion of the study focused on data obtained from the surveys and the qualitative portion was based on phenomenological interviews of aging workers. Results: Themes emerging from the interviews demonstrate the importance of health promoting habits and family support in providing the critical foundation to maintain employment past age 55. Financial stability was a key motivator which compelled the interviewees to continue working. The older workers had no planned date for retirement and felt confident that the knowledge and life experience they offered were important qualities they brought to the workplace. The survey showed a need for occupational therapists to become more responsive to the growing demographic of older adult workers as they reported limited service enhancement and expansion for this group. Conclusion: Aging workers are prime candidates for occupational therapy. However, the profession appears to be overlooking opportunities to meet the needs of these productive community members. Occupational therapists need to better respond to the physical, social, psychological, cognitive, and environmental challenges faced by this well population. The authors challenge occupational therapists to alter services, seek funding and obtain continuing education so they are better equipped to establish and enhance effective programs for this growing population.
Abstract: As clinicians are searching for evidence to support their practice interventions, it is sometimes hard to find the "real-world" studies that incorporate the complexities of actual practice. Following calls in the public health, nursing and medical literature for clinicians to participate in practice-based evidence, this pilot study explores the effectiveness of a single-subject design for practice-based evidence. Twenty-five "well" university employees participated in an ergonomic intervention over the course of one academic…semester that consisted of a 15 min ergonomic intake session, a 45 min group hands-on ergonomic educational session and a 15 min individual ergonomic consult in their offices. Participants were sent postural comfort surveys weekly and their subjective ratings were analyzed to determine the effectiveness of the intervention to decrease their perceived postural discomfort at a computer work station. Twenty-one of the twenty-five participants reported an improvement in postural comfort over the course of the study. This pilot study suggests that further investigation needs to be conducted to determine the effectiveness of hands-on ergonomic education and consultation for well populations working at computer workstations.
Abstract: The following case study describes an ergonomics intervention program, designed and implemented by an occupational therapist (OT), which included principles of participatory ergonomics, had full support of management and administration, and addressed the work, worker, and environment. The ergonomics program took place in the Sterile Processing Center (SPC) of a 398 bed, mid-western hospital. The SPC was responsible for the collection, sterilization, and reassembling of hospital surgical equipment. The 30 employees of…the SPC were vulnerable to injury, having experienced 19 in only two years (of the 19 injuries, 9 were WMSD or ergonomics-related injuries). Over a two and a half year period, the OT and SPC manager conducted ergonomic evaluations, implemented employee training, designed a new SPC department, and modified work processes and equipment. In the year following the training and changes, the SPC staff experienced no injuries. Because of it's success, the program is continuing on a quarterly basis to ensure new problems are addressed quickly, new processes or equipment are evaluated, and new staff are properly trained.
Abstract: The purpose of this article is to explore the use of qualitative research in vocational rehabilitation as a means of empowering people with disabilities to (a) take greater control of their lives and (b) directly inform public policy and vocational rehabilitation service delivery. After exploring various definitions of the construct empowerment, we provide a rationale for the use of qualitative research as an empowerment mechanism based on (a) philosophies espoused by leaders of the independent living…movement, (b) disability legislation, and (c) a multi-constituency call for more consumer involvement in research. We then describe empirical properties of various qualitative methodologies that lend themselves to consumer empowerment. The article concludes with several examples of qualitative approaches to scientific inquiry from the rehabilitation literature that include many of the empowerment aspects described herein.