Better Communication Gets Sore Workers Back Faster
A study supported by the Quebec workplace safety research nonprofit IRRST investigated how workers' recovery from musculoskeletal injuries is affected when the worker and the doctor are, or are not, on the same wavelength in understanding the injury.
Good communication on the job works wonders. A new study financed by the Quebec workplace safety research nonprofit IRRST (Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail) shows how good communication also helps workers recover faster from musculoskeletal injuries. The researchers set out to discover how recovery is affected when the worker and the doctor are, or are not, on the same wavelength in understanding the injury.
Different interpretations by the two parties may not be harmful, the researchers found -- for example, the patient might do better if he or she moved closer to the clinical viewpoint of the caregiver. But the study bears out that clinician should understand the injured worker's representation of the injury, and the proposed strategy should be acceptable to both, or, at very least, should make sense to the worker.
The paper notes $504.6 million was spent on compensation for spinal disorders in Quebec in 2003 alone. This study recruited workers who were starting a rehab program at a local hospital to examine the impact of illness, pain, and recovery representations on their rehabilitation process. To be eligible, a worker had to have sustained an MSD that was compensated and had resulted in sick leave of more than three months, be between the ages of 18 and 64, and be on his or her first long-term sick leave attributable to an MSD. Interviews with the patients and the clinicians were conducted at four mileposts during the return to work program.
IRSST conducts and funds research in occupational health and safety, with most of its funding coming from employers' contributions.