Webinar recording:Systematic approaches to identifying and addressing biopsychosocial barriers – the missing policy in RTW Part 2

Pam Garton PhD

In part two of a three part series on identifying and managing psychosocial issues in RTW, Dr Pam Garton discusses psychosocial assessment.
About the webinar

Workers’ compensation systems were established to benefit injured and ill workers, facilitating return to work by paying wages, medical expenses and rehabilitation costs during the recovery period. However, health outcomes are actually worse for people who claim compensation than for those who don’t. (1) 

A strong body of evidence suggests that the relatively poor health outcomes seen in workers’ compensation systems are frequently due to biopsychosocial influences.  Workers classified as high risk using psychosocial screening may have over three times the days off work than those classified as low risk. (2)

The good news is that psychosocial factors are usually modifiable, which means that they are open to positive influence. Yet identification and management of psychosocial factors is patchy rather than systemic.    

It is well established that the Biopsychosocial Model is the best framework in which to manage these complexities.  Pam Garton was recently awarded her PhD for deep analysis of the Biopsychosocial Approach and the benefits and challenges associated with its successful implementation within Workplace Rehabilitation.

Through her research, including a comprehensive literature review, one qualitative and three quantitative studies, Pam identified the essential components and processes of an effective Biopsychosocial Approach. These are detailed in her thesis and led to the conclusion that an effective Biopsychosocial Approach can only be achieved through structured system-wide implementation. 

(1) Murgatroyd, D. F., Casey, P. P., Cameron, I. D., & Harris, I. A. (2015). The effect of financial compensation on health outcomes following musculoskeletal injury: Systematic review. PloS One, 10(2). 
(2) Nicholas M, Pearce G, Gleeson M, Pinto R, Costa D. Work Injury Screening and Early Intervention (WISE) Study. Preliminary Outcomes Presentation to Rehabilitation Psychologists’ Interest Group Sydney. 2015;30.

Part two: Psychosocial assessment

Due to the complexity of work-related injuries, best-practice evidence indicates that Injury Management should follow a Biopsychosocial Approach. Core components of this approach include triage (discussed in a previous webinar) and comprehensive psychosocial assessment. In this webinar, Dr Pam Garton distils her extensive research on psychosocial assessment to provide the essential information to support implementation of an effective Biopsychosocial program. The goals of that program will be to provide standardised identification and measurement of key psychosocial variables to guide tailored intervention, and to engage and motivate each client to build recovery capacity.

• Recap on Psychosocial Triage
• Accurate assessment of influential psychosocial variables.
• Assessment characteristics that engage and motivate respondents.
• Linking Psychosocial Assessment to Biopsychosocial intervention.
• Case samples of an effective Biopsychosocial Approach achieving improved outcomes.

Pam Garton PhD

Pam is an Occupational Therapist who has provided biopsychosocial innovation, training and advice to Workplace Rehabilitation for over 30 years. In recognition of her leadership and contribution to this industry she was awarded Life Membership of the Australian Rehabilitation Providers Association in 2009. Pam was co-founder of the Abilita Program which includes a comprehensive psychosocial assessment to deconstruct the complex web of Biopsychosocial factors into identifiable and measurable domains, which may inform self-management skills coaching. Over recent years Pam has immersed herself in research at La Trobe University resulting in now being awarded a Doctor of Philosophy for her work into the implementation of an effective Biopsychosocial Approach in Workplace Rehabilitation. Her research included a comprehensive review of current literature and evaluation of a structured biopsychosocial program, to identify the essential components of an effective Biopsychosocial Approach.  

Webinar recording

Q & A Session


Files to download

Presentation slides

Published 13 August, 2020 | Updated 22 September, 2020