Targeted early intervention of workers with soft issue injury leads to a better recovery

Workers found to be at significant risk for a long-term disability based on known psychosocial risk factors following a musculoskeletal injury were identified using a screening tool. This questionnaire was given to all injured workers within 5 days of injury. 24% of screened injured workers were identified as being high risk.

Those at high risk were immediately referred to a psychologist for an assessment of the psychosocial obstacles for early recovery and return to work for up to 6 treatment sessions. They were also reviewed by an independent physiotherapist with a specialised knowledge of work-related injuries and rehabilitation if any physiotherapy treatments continued beyond 6 weeks.

Return-to-work occurred on average at 36 days with this targeted intervention, compared to 56 days with usual care, and the return-to-work figures were more sustained across 18 months follow-up with 100% sustaining a return to pre injury duties. This led to 22% total savings on claims. Importantly, it also led to reduced emotional distress, reduced worry and reduced disability for injured workers

This study has shown that it is possible to identify those at high risk within days of the injury and that targeted psychosocial interventions can be effective.

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