Research Updates

This page lists all research updates available on Return to Work Matters.

Research is chosen for review based on quality of the evidence and its practical value in return to work.

Requests to undertake reviews of research on particular subjects are welcome.

Click the ‘Topics’ button below to drill down into all articles and research updates on your topic of interest.

Good news on remote work (but not pandemic health)

contributorRTWMatters team

Shifting to remote work during lockdown doesn’t necessarily derail health. However, workers may...

Back pain RTW delayed by poor mental health

contributorGabrielle Lis

Depression and anxiety delay sustained RTW for workers with work-related musculoskeletal...

Failure to implement

contributorGabrielle Lis

Workplace health and wellbeing programs almost always sound great in theory, but often come...

What is work-focused healthcare?

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Physiotherapists, rehabilitation professionals and other health practitioners treating people...

Trying too hard at work

contributorRTWMatters team

The severity of overexertion injuries in construction rises with age, while the frequency of...

Gaming workplace wellness

contributorRTWMatters team

For sedentary office workers, gamification steps up activity but nudges (e.g. signs) in the...

Bumpy road to RTW with whiplash injuries

contributorRTWMatters team

For people with chronic whiplash-related disorders, RTW is a difficult process, with alternating...

Will IT cause chronic health problems?

contributorGabrielle Lis

Sedentary work and screen time leisure sound warning bells for the future health of the growing...

Migraines: Workplace costs

contributorGabrielle Lis

Migraines are a significant cause of presenteeism, according to research from Japan, with...

Expectations impact sickness absence after carpal tunnel surgery

contributorGabrielle Lis

Worker's pre-surgery expectations about the timing of RTW influence the duration of sickness...

Older workers face worse consequences for hard, physical work

contributorRTWMatters team

The negative health consequences of high physical work demands depend on age, with workers aged...

The OT perspective on RTW and cancer

contributorRTWMatters team

Occupational Therapists (OTs) say people returning to work after cancer are likely to face...

Sick lifestyle? More leave, less work ability

contributorRTWMatters team

Workers with healthy lifestyles have less sick leave and higher work ability than those who...

Moving away from LBP

contributorGabrielle Lis

People with chronic, non specific low back pain may benefit from treatment that identifies and...

Measuring the fairness of IMEs

contributorGabrielle Lis

In a world first, researchers have launched the Basel Fairness Questionnaire (BFQ), a survey...

Treatment guidelines reduce LBP risk

contributorGabrielle Lis

Following international treatment guidelines reduces the risk of transition from short to long...

Tired of MSDs

contributorRTWMatters team

Might more ZZZs or less fatigue help workers with pain from musculoskeletal disorders recover...

Evidence moves on frozen shoulder treatment

contributorGabrielle Lis

After rigorously comparing all the relevant, good quality evidence available in 2020, a team of...

Comparing LBP prevention approaches

contributorGabrielle Lis

Fixing the workplace or fixing the person: which is a more effective way to prevent lower back pain?

A new look at depression and RTW

contributorRTWMatters team

Clinical treatment combined with workplace changes is the most promising approach for improving...

Talking about episodic disability at work

contributorRTWMatters team

Canadian researchers explore organisational perspectives on talking about episodic disability at...

Common knee surgery usually unhelpful, may be harmful

contributorGabrielle Lis

Evidence accumulates against arthroscopic partial meniscectomy, a common surgical procedure...

The more the spine changes, the more it stays the same?

contributorRTWMatters team

Neck X-rays show that changes to the cervical spine are common, and become more common and more...

Listening to emergency call-takers

contributorRTWMatters team

It's a tough job with few supports, and far too little research into health and wellbeing...

Sobering news about fibromyalgia treatments

contributorGabrielle Lis

Common treatments for fibromyalgia lack a strong evidence base but exercise and antidepressants...

Call centre workers tired of faking it

contributorGabrielle Lis

Feeling one way and having to act another is a hallmark of call centre work. The resulting...

What hurts worse, trauma or workplace insensitivity?

contributorGabrielle Lis

For ambulance workers, mental health issues result not just from exposure to traumatic events,...

Comcare has success with innovative early intervention program

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Phone triage is an effective gateway to early intervention, securing cost and recovery benefits...

NSW success story of early intervention

contributorGabrielle Lis

Research from NSW shows that early intervention saves money and improves health when it's...

Orebro in the real world

contributorGabrielle Lis

A risk assessment tool that ordinary, under-pressure case managers can use.

You didn't tell me that: Unfair communication and mental health

contributorRTWMatters team

More Australian research supports the link between mental health struggles amongst workers'...

How to get bang for buck from vocational rehabilitation

contributorRTWMatters team

Multi-component vocational rehabilitation programs that intervene early and improve coordination...

Predicting – without overtreating – chronic LBP

contributorGabrielle Lis

A screening tool developed in Australia could help workers’ compensation systems and treating...

Motivational interviewing and RTW

contributorGabrielle Lis

Motivational interviewing is very beneficial, according to injured workers who need practical...

Should workers disclose mental illness at work?

contributorGabrielle Lis

Disclosing a mental illness has potential benefits (increased understanding, improved support)...

Are health apps the way forward for chronic MSDs?

contributorRTWMatters team

A promising new digital care program that monitors exercise and offers personal health coaching...

Non-invasive, drug-free, durable treatments for chronic pain: what works?

contributorGabrielle Lis

Exercise is effective in reducing pain and improving function with many types of chronic pain –...

You can’t manage psychosocial risk if you don’t recognise it

contributorGabrielle Lis

Managers focused on workers' bad attitudes may miss opportunities to control the organisational...

What types of work cause osteoarthritis?

contributorGabrielle Lis

Osteoarthritis is a top-ten cause of disability worldwide. With an ageing workforce, employers...

Collaborative supervisors block bullying

contributorGabrielle Lis

More than half of FIFO workers report bullying at work, which triples worker-reported suicide...