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.

A new tool to help rehab professionals tailor care for injured workers

contributorLauren Finestone

A new decision aid tool is showing promise in helping vocational rehabilitation professionals...

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down — addressing mental health at work

contributorLauren Finestone

Interventions for mental health issues must address the individual, organisational and systemic...

Improving RTW practices for injured police officers

contributorLauren Finestone

Police officers are at high risk for work injuries and illnesses. How can organisations provide...

Is motivational interviewing effective in workers’ comp schemes?

contributorLauren Finestone

Motivational interviewing is used in case management in many Australian personal injury...

The spine-tingling truth — guideline blindness among many physios who treat low back pain

contributorLauren Finestone

A study finds that many physios are unfamiliar with guidelines on treating low back pain and...

Cognitive-behavioural therapy-based interventions support RTW

contributorLauren Finestone

A study shows that cognitive-behavioural therapy-based interventions can reduce sick leave and...

How supervisors can prevent staff burnout

contributorLauren Finestone

Supervisors’ personal experiences of burnout, their attitudes towards mental health and the...

What levers can rehab professionals pull to promote staying at work after injury?

contributorLauren Finestone

Occupational rehab professionals can help workers adopt preventive behaviours when returning to...

‘It's just bone crunchin’ on bone’ — an example of non-recovery-oriented messaging

contributorLauren Finestone

Healthcare practitioners can worsen their patients’ condition if they communicate negative...

Culture not trauma — a new approach to identifying and preventing mental harm in first responders: Part 2

contributorLauren Finestone

A study highlights the importance of addressing ‘moral injury’, organisational practices and...

The enduring impact of what clinicians say to people with low back pain

contributorLauren Finestone

Healthcare professionals have more influence than they may realise on the attitudes and beliefs...

‘This is so unfair’. Preventing perceptions of injustice after a work injury.

contributorLauren Finestone

A sense of injustice is common among injured workers and can prolong their suffering. What...

Culture not trauma — a new approach to identifying and preventing mental harm in first responders (Part 1)

contributorLauren Finestone

A study suggests it’s time for a rethink on what causes distress in first responders and how to...

The impact of tailored programs on RTW outcomes

contributorLauren Finestone

A study provides valuable insights into long-term outcomes for tailored interventions in...

Professional challenges in private physiotherapy practice

contributorLauren Finestone

A study suggests that competition overrides communication and collaboration in private physio...

How useful are scripted messages? — the link between evidence and practice

contributorLauren Finestone

What does the evidence say about using scripted messages to communicate with people?

What sustains RTW success for workers with mental and musculoskeletal conditions?

contributorLauren Finestone

Supervisors, senior managers and workplace culture play an important role in how well workers do...

The social network — how others’ fears about pain affect RTW

contributorLauren Finestone

The fears that the people around injured workers — their employers, family members and GPs —...

Checking the benefits of workplace mental health screening

contributorLauren Finestone

A study suggests that workplace mental health screening programs on their own may not be very...

‘I rest my case’ — the evidence is in on psychosocial hazards for law teachers

contributorLauren Finestone

Universities need to support student well-being, but this requires them to support the...

‘You look much prettier when you smile’ — emerging psychosocial risks in the hospitality industry

contributorLauren Finestone

A study identifies some new psychosocial risks in hospitality jobs and proposes a way to assess...

What gets in the way of physios using the biopsychosocial model for persistent pain?

contributorLauren Finestone

What things make it harder or easier for physiotherapists to use a biopsychosocial approach when...

Let’s (not just) get physical — psychosocial hazards play a role in musculoskeletal disorders too

contributorLauren Finestone

Three recent studies show how important it is for workplaces to focus on identifying and...

There’s an app for that — getting back to work after a brain injury

contributorLauren Finestone

An app called ‘RTW after TBI’ could help people return to work and deal with the challenges they...

Do you see what I see? — there’s safety in unity

contributorLauren Finestone

A study suggests that when employers and workers agree on what workplace risks are and how to...

A Wysa approach to recovery from work-related injury

contributorLauren Finestone

A study of an AI drive app shows that digital psychosocial interventions can improve recovery...

Do inspections by regulators prevent psychosocial risks at work?

contributorLauren Finestone

A study found that visits by inspectors can improve how companies manage psychosocial risks

Be a caring climate engineer — a roadmap for cultivating healthier and more successful workplaces

contributorLauren Finestone

Evidence shows that a caring environment can have a powerful impact on workers’ mental health...

Can work health and safety management systems address psychosocial risks?

contributorLauren Finestone

Using anonymous data in workplace risk assessments, taking the results seriously and having a...

Workplace bullying and sick leave — a 2-way street

contributorLauren Finestone

Bullying increases the risk of workers getting sick and taking time off from work, both in the...

How do regulators respond to complaints about psychosocial and physical hazards? And how should they? — Part 2

contributorLauren Finestone

A recent study reveals that when it comes to workplace hazards, work, health and safety...

How do regulators respond to complaints about psychosocial and physical hazards? And how should they? — Part 1

contributorLauren Finestone

A recent study reveals that when it comes to workplace hazards, work, health and safety...

Opioids are no better than placebos for acute back and neck pain

contributorLauren Finestone

A study busts the myth that pain medications are necessary to ‘get on top of the pain’.

Mind and mood — how psychosocial factors shape recovery from surgery

contributorLauren Finestone

Research shows that our emotional and mental state can influence how well we heal and bounce...

Medical narratives — a telling tale of how to communicate about problems and solutions in low back pain recovery

contributorLauren Finestone

A study shows how using medical narratives — or sharing stories about medical experiences — can...

Job demands as psychosocial hazards — reducing the risks through the power of nature and virtual reality

contributorLauren Finestone

A study suggests that taking a break, getting some exercise and spending time in nature — either...

Return to work is not colour blind — examining racial inequality in RTW processes

contributorLauren Finestone

A study reveals that workers of colour are less likely to return to work after illness or injury.

I swear it helped my pain — why the F-word feels so good when it hurts

contributorLauren Finestone

Swearing feels good — not just psychologically, it also helps us tolerate pain.

Finding the right words — the best way to reassure patients when things are uncertain

contributorLauren Finestone

A study suggests that some types of reassurance by doctors might be more helpful than others...

The 'wicked' problem of addressing psychosocial hazards — lessons from abroad

contributorLauren Finestone

What makes it so hard to effectively assess and implement measures to address psychosocial...