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.

Work — the problem, or the solution to common mental health issues?

contributorLauren Finestone

Depression, anxiety, stress-related disorders. Work can be the problem or the solution if you...

RTW expectations built on trust, workplace support and actions of treatment provider

contributorRTWMatters team

RTW expectations predict recovery from musculoskeletal injury. Workplace supports, trust and the...

Work demands and resources linked to mental health absences

contributorRTWMatters team

Work that offers few learning opportunities, low co-worker and supervisor support, high...

What aspects of work cause MSDs for professional drivers?

contributorRTWMatters team

Interventions for work-related MSDs should not be based merely on addressing the symptoms, but...

An evidence-based system for occupational mental health interventions

contributorWork Wellness Institute, Canada

Covering risk assessment, implementation, RTW, EAPs and post-implementation quality improvement,...

Quality of work predicts mental health

contributorRTWMatters team

There is a strong link between work quality and mental health, and some workers are slugged by...

Benevolence at work

contributorRTWMatters team

A sense of being able to give is linked to less stress and depression at work.

Case management survey: caseloads, commitment and self-training

contributorRTWMatters team

We share results from the 2021 Return to Work Matters Case Management Survey, completed by more...

Study probes factors behind poorer health, lower employment in injured workers’ post-claim experience

contributorInstitute for Work and Health

New injured worker cohort study at IWH focuses on experiences of workers with long-duration...

Pain Reprocessing Therapy can resolve chronic back pain

contributorGabrielle Lis

For people with chronic back pain, psychological treatment that tackles unhelpful beliefs about...

The high cost of losing value at work

contributorRTWMatters team

Supervisors need to recognise that workers who feel socially devalued at work suffer health and...

Opportunity to increase value in low back pain care

contributorRTWMatters team

A single pain management skills session is as effective at reducing pain catastrophising for...

Targeted prevention of long-term sickness absence

contributorRTWMatters team

Some prevention strategies go the distance, reducing long term sickness absence even five years...

Workplace interventions to prevent sedentary pain

contributorGabrielle Lis

Are inflating and deflating “smart seats” the cure for back and neck pain amongst sedentary...

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...