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.

Back on track — the use of mental health services by workers with low back pain

contributorLauren Finestone

Early mental health services can accelerate recovery, improve function and improve...

Walking back from low back pain — what motivates people to start and stick to exercise

contributorLauren Finestone

A study into what motivates people to engage in programs for preventing low back pain offers...

The relationship between work disability and suicide or self-harm

contributorLauren Finestone

A study confirms the strong link between work disability and suicide or self-harm.

Can self-compassion reduce pain-related disability?

contributorLauren Finestone

Being kinder to oneself may be a key to dealing with ongoing pain and achieving greater well-being

‘Manage at Work’ — a worksite self-management program boosts engagement and retention

contributorLauren Finestone

A worksite self-management program that used a group psycho-education format helped workers with...

Peer support for self-management of persistent pain — 3 basic ingredients that make it effective

contributorLauren Finestone

By using the 3 ‘ingredients’ of self-determination theory, healthcare professionals can help...

The RESTORE study reinforces the benefits of cognitive functional therapy for back pain

contributorLauren Finestone

A recent study into a new approach called Cognitive Functional Therapy offers hope for those...

I expect, therefore I will — the link between positive expectations and recovery

contributorLauren Finestone

There is increasing recognition of the importance of psychological factors in how we recover...

What does best practice care for musculoskeletal pain look like?

contributorLauren Finestone

Concerns about the lack of quality of care for musculoskeletal pain conditions led researchers...

Don’t take back pain lying down — how rest can make ‘flares’ worse

contributorLauren Finestone

A study confirms that even small changes in your daily habits, like how long you sleep and how...

From long-term pain to workplace gain — self-management strategies for success at work

contributorLauren Finestone

Long-term pain conditions are common for many working adults and can have a big impact on job...

From patient to partner — collaboration boosts long-term back pain self-management

contributorLauren Finestone

Self-management is now seen as a collaboration between the person living with the pain and their...

Shouldering the load — what education patients with rotator cuff pain want

contributorLauren Finestone

A study shows what people who have rotator cuff-related shoulder pain want when it comes to...

Staying at work with musculoskeletal pain — what resources and information do people need?

contributorLauren Finestone

A study into how people with ongoing musculoskeletal pain experience their workplaces and how...

Exploring an AI-powered solution to long-term back pain

contributorLauren Finestone

We’re becoming more and more aware that traditional treatments for long-term back pain — like...

Is exercise really a good way to self-manage depression?

contributorLauren Finestone

For people who are looking for a natural, drug-free way to manage their depression, a recent...

Person-centred care for musculoskeletal pain — a tool to put principles into practice

contributorLauren Finestone

Person-centred care is an important part of care for people with musculoskeletal pain...

Self-managing pain — websites and other tools for healthcare and RTW practitioners

contributorLauren Finestone

Not everyone with persistent pain conditions can access specialised pain services. How effective...

What helps (and doesn’t help) people self-manage their chronic musculoskeletal pain — tools for healthcare providers

contributorLauren Finestone

Self-management can be a game-changer in helping patients take control of their pain and start...

Why self-management can be hard to do — barriers in primary healthcare settings

contributorLauren Finestone

A study explores the barriers to self-management of chronic pain conditions in primary...

Supporting self-management of long-term conditions — the ‘who for’, ‘who by’, ‘what works’ and ‘how’

contributorLauren Finestone

It is now accepted that self-management is critical for people with chronic conditions. But what...

Safer, healthier, wealthier — the economic value of reducing work-related injuries and illnesses

contributorLauren Finestone

What’s the economic impact of work-related illness or injury? Safe Work Australia engaged...

Victorian Injured Worker Outcomes Study Part 4 — suggestions for improvement to the workers’ compensation system

contributorLauren Finestone

It’s the people who have first-hand experience of a service or system that can give the most...

When there’s a fraction too much friction — communication and collaboration between stakeholders promotes RTW

contributorLauren Finestone

What impact does friction between workers’ comp stakeholder have on the effective rehabilitation...

The outcomes of lumbar spinal fusion surgery — a tale of 2 studies

contributorLauren Finestone

Lumbar spinal fusion surgery is an increasing, but controversial procedure for chronic low back...

Victorian Injured Worker Outcomes Study Part 2 — how healthcare providers and case managers affect RTW outcomes

contributorLauren Finestone

Most injured workers return to work quickly. But why don’t others? And what can we do to reduce...

The Victorian Injured Worker Outcomes Study: Part 1 — the impact of IMEs on workers’ recovery

contributorLauren Finestone

A Victorian study into the factors that influence longer term workers’ compensation claims found...

A look at hospital admissions after long-duration workers’ compensation claims

contributorLauren Finestone

A study finds that people with long duration workers’ compensation claims were more likely than...

What do physios think about exercise programs to prevent low back pain?

contributorLauren Finestone

What do we know about physiotherapists’ understanding of, attitudes to and experiences of...

Physios and patients give telehealth the thumbs up

contributorLauren Finestone

Physios and patients who had consultations by videoconference during the COVID-19 pandemic liked...

Spark joy to stay safe at work

contributorLauren Finestone

Leaders’ behaviours can influence employees — and also prevent workplace injuries — through...

‘It’s not fair. And it hurts’. The relationship between perceived injustice, chronic pain, recovery and RTW

contributorLauren Finestone

A study into the relationship between perceptions of injustice and chronic pain gives us reason...

Workplace conflict — a big risk factor for sick leave

contributorLauren Finestone

A new study found that conflicts in the workplace — particularly with supervisors — are an...

GLA:D to have an evidence-informed approach for painful knees and hips

contributorLauren Finestone

An evidence-based physiotherapy program that began in Denmark and was adopted in Australia is...

Getting the message right: strategies to improve return to work communication

contributorLauren Finestone

A study from the Institute for Work and Health provides 5 strategies you can use to effectively...

Scans rule, don’t they? Patient misbeliefs and misconceptions about spine conditions

contributorLauren Finestone

Misunderstandings and mistaken beliefs about the diagnosis and management of degenerative...

‘An epidemic of useless and often harmful care’ — Part 2

contributorLauren Finestone

Payments for healthcare represent the second largest item of expenditure for Australian workers’...