IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Preventing Prolonged Disability in Workers Compensated for Musculoskeletal Disorders – A Systematic Literature Review, 2008-2013 Update


This report constitutes an update of the literature review entitled “Strategies for Preventing Prolonged Disability in Workers Compensated for Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders,” published in 2011 by the IRSST. The update documents the articles published between January 2008 and July 2013 on this topic.

The methodological approach taken was similar to that in the original literature review. The same search strategy was used by a specialized librarian to identify pertinent references from keywords, titles, and abstracts contained in ten scientific databases. The inclusion and exclusion criteria used to select the articles and the data collection and analysis strategies applied were also essentially the same. Analyses were performed to map out and categorize the new articles identified, ascertain new research trends, and describe the latest potential strategies for preventing prolonged disability in workers compensated for work-related musculoskeletal disorders.

This update confirms and shows the strengthening of the trends already observed in the aforementioned literature review covering the 2000–2007 period: an interest in screening for workers at risk of prolonged disability, in the different viewpoints of the various stakeholders involved in the prevention process, and in developing and validating evaluation and intervention tools. While studies in the area of prolonged-disability prevention are still scarce, significant progress has been made in, among other things, early screening for workers at risk of prolonged disability. Again, although few studies exist on the factors influencing disability, there appears to be growing consensus on the importance of identifying, at an early stage, workers at risk of prolonged disability in order to take targeted action on the aspects conducive to their recovery of their capacities and a healthy and sustainable return to work. Transverse analysis of the different topics of interest in the articles brought to light six strategies for preventing prolonged disability and promoting a successful and sustainable return to work: early screening for workers at risk of prolonged disability; targeted intervention for these workers or multimodal intervention for complex cases; active involvement of the workers in their own rehabilitation and return-to-work plans; intervention centered on the workplace and the workers’ work activities; the taking into account of the implementation conditions and context; and centralized collaboration among the various stakeholders.

The update also reveals that interventions aimed at preventing prolonged disability should include all stakeholders in the process of designing and implementing the return-to-work plan. However, much effort is still needed, in both research and practice, to better understand the accommodations and adjustments that work in the diverse situations and contexts in which interventions are implemented in different workplaces.

Additional Information

Category: Research Report
Research Project: 2013-0027
Research Field: Occupational Rehabilitation
Online since: September 16, 2014
Format: Text