Meet our Researchers - Finding the Answers that help ISCRR make a difference

Beth Kilgour has just completed her PhD with ISCRR and the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine at Monash University.

Beth is applying qualitative research techniques to investigate the experiences and interactions of injured workers and psychologists in the Victorian workers compensation system.
Beth has worked as a Counselling Psychologist specializing in Rehabilitation Psychology for the past 22 years. Beth has extensive experience in assisting TAC and VWA clients who suffer complex and long term injuries to adjust and overcome difficulties with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress.
Beth has a Bachelor of Behavioural Science, a Graduate Diploma in Counselling Psychology, and a Diploma of Clinical Hypnosis. She is a member of the Australian Psychological Society and the Australian Society of Hypnosis; a member and supervisor of the College of Counselling Psychologists; a member of the Occupational Psychology Interest Group and a national committee member of the Rehabilitation Psychology Interest Group.

Beth Kilgour is one of over 60 researchers who make up the ISCRR research network. Many who form part of ISCRR's network of researchers, like Beth, help ISCRR find the answers which help make a difference to those living with a traumatic injury.

Where do you work?
I'm currently studying my PhD full time through ISCRR and the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine at Monash.  This year I also began the Work Disability Prevention CIHR Strategic Training Program with the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at University of Toronto.

Where were you prior to starting at Monash University?

Prior to starting at MonashI managed my own psychology practice for about 20 years.  There were several psychologists who each worked in their specialist area of interest such as children, adolescent or relationship counselling.  My specialist area was in rehabilitation psychology, working with people who suffered complex, long term injuries after workplace or transport accidents.

How long have you been a researcher with ISCRR?
I started my PhD in July 2011.

What area of research are you working in and what attracted you to this type of research?

I'm using qualitative methods to investigate the experiences of injured workers and psychologists in workers compensation systems.  The desire to return to study developed as a natural consequence of working with both compensable and non-compensable clients who suffered serious physical injuries and long term mental health issues. Seeing the changes within compensable systems over the years heightened my awareness of how certain system process can hinder or support an injured person's recovery and future lifestyle.  I was inspired by how some of my clients overcame considerable barriers to achieve to productive and fulfilling lives.  As I was managing and supervising other psychologists, I felt it was important to broaden my knowledge about and recovery processes and rehabilitation systems.

What do you like best about your role?

I've really enjoyed learning how there are many similarities in the experiences of injured people and healthcare providers despite the differences in culture, medical and social support systems across countries.   I also delight in meeting other researchers and clinicians who work in the occupational health field and hearing about their field of study. There are so many interesting areas that are being researched in this space it's a challenge not to become side-tracked.

What was the most fulfilling piece of research you completed?

I would say that my initial systematic review of qualitative research into injured workers' experiences within workers' compensation systems qualifies as most fulfilling so far. This research has generated two published articles, the first discusses injured workers' interactions with insurers, and the second looks at healthcare providers' interactions with injured workers and insurers.  The studies included in the review relayed anecdotes from both injured workers and clinicians that resonated with my own experiences of working in this arena. Because qualitative studies generate such extensive data it was challenging to filter what issues to include or exclude. Pleasingly, the resulting articles have been well received both locally and internationally.

How is your research benefiting/providing impact for the Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA) and the TAC?

My area of study will provide some new information for VWA. The systematic review of injured workers' experiences with workers' compensation systems has introduced an international perspective and no similar review has been conducted previously. Some difficulties that injured workers and clinicians experience have been highlighted.  Positive aspects of claims management have also been identified.  My current research with psychologists will provide the healthcare providers perspective of the VWA system.  As the number of mental health claims are increasing, it is important for workers compensation regulators and policy makers to have a thorough understanding of the role and experiences of psychologists. Hopefully this research will translate into improved psychological services and better outcomes for injured workers, thereby producing cost savings for VWA.

What is the best piece of advice you've been given, and what would you give?

While not having received this advice personally, it's a tenet that I have applied and given both personally and professionally.   The learned psychologist Albert Ellis famously said "it is not the events themselves that upset people but rather its people's perceptions of events that is upsetting". I like this statement immensely because it can apply to almost every event we come across, in work, study and at home. You can gain great freedom from applying this perspective.

Describe yourself in three words.
Resourceful, innovative and persistent.