Existing evidence suggests that recovery self-management programs can increase an injured or ill person's self-efficacy, while reducing pain, fatigue and anxiety, emergency service visits and hospitalization. Do they have any impact specifically on Return to Work (RTW) outcomes?

Self-management programs are initiatives that help injured or ill individuals to gain knowledge of their condition and/or how this condition is managed.

Professor Niki Ellis led a randomised trial with support from Dr Dianne Sheppard from the Monash Injury Research Institute, an Australian Research Council Linkage grant, the University of Queensland and Flinders University.

For this trial, the researchers added a self-management program to an existing RTW model targeted at injured workers recovering from chronic, compensated, musculoskeletal disorders.

The team then tested this new model for effectiveness and acceptability to patients, occupational rehabilitation providers, policy makers and regulators.

Where to now?

This project concluded in 2013, finding that self-management training in this proposed form had no significant impact on either workers' readiness to RTW or on their broader personal health management.

There were, however, many additional recorded benefits for injured workers in terms of group support, goal setting, self-esteem and communication.

The team produced a feasibility report, recommending that future projects in this field include the development of an improved intervention, with input from clients, trainers, vocational rehabilitation providers, regulators, claims managers and representatives from the health care centre.

The research team has also published the following journal articles on their research:

Many of these findings were presented at ISCRR's Return to Work Forum in 2014.

At this event, Dr Venerina Johnston delivered the following presentation: