It has been noted that social support can positively influence injury recovery. Researchers are hoping to identify the kind of support that is most beneficial, and how this support could be enhanced by official compensation systems.
With preliminary research suggesting that those who are compensated for illness or injury are often slower to recover than those with matched injuries who are not compensated, it is critical to research all factors with the potential to influence recovery rates.
Social support (particularly when received from family and friends) is one such factor, influencing a diverse range of health outcomes following injury and illness.
PhD candidate Khic-Houy Prang is leading research into how social support affects recovery after road traffic accidents, under the supervision of Dr Sharon Newnam and Dr Janneke Berecki-Gisolf from the MonashInjury Research Institute.
These researchers hope to identify the ways in which physical, psychological and economic outcomes after injury are influenced by variations in type, source, size and level of workplace or family support.
Where to now?
The research team produced a journal article exploring the link between social factors and recovery from musculoskeletal injury.
They also presented some preliminary research at the Australasian Compensation Health Research Forum (ACHRF) in 2014.
This research indicates that social support has a positive impact on physical health, pain and return to work for the injured person and recommends that formal sources of support be provided to those with limited access to a personal social network.
Further research in this area is currently ongoing. Watch this space for updates.