New centre aims to improve return-to-work outcomes

Chronic musculoskeletal pain and disability takes a huge toll on workers, their families and employers. Finding out how best to treat and rehabilitate workers who experience these conditions is a fundamental step in reducing the burden of disability experienced by both the individual and society. A new research centre, whose leadership includes a number of IWH scientists, hopes to address these issues and find the best approaches to return individuals with chronic pain to work.

The Centre for Research Expertise in Improving Disability Outcomes (CREIDO) will focus on the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of chronic musculoskeletal (MSK) pain and its related disability. The new Centre, led by Director and co-principal investigator Dr. J. David Cassidy (Toronto Western Hospital Research Institute Senior Scientist and IWH Adjunct Scientist), together with co-principal investigators Dr. Pierre Côté (IWH Scientist) and Dr. Simon Carette (University Health Network Head of Rheumatology), will be based at Toronto Western Hospital, University Health Network. CREIDO is the newest of three centres of research expertise funded by the Research Advisory Committee (RAC) of the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board of Ontario (WSIB).

The Centre’s research will address all aspects of return-to-work (RTW) practices in the management of chronic pain, including treatment and rehabilitation, organization and design of work and the workplace, and insurance policies and practices as they affect individuals with chronic MSK pain and disability. Our efforts will be concentrated on injured workers and their interaction with health-care providers, the workplace and the WSIB, says Côté. We’ll be looking at the factors that facilitate or hinder safe and sustainable return to work.

While early intervention for musculoskeletal disorders is important, understanding whom the interventions should be targeted to, the right mix of clinical and workplace intervention, and when intervention will be most helpful, are also critical, explains Côté. The new Centre will design and test interventions that:

  • target injured workers shortly after their injury, before they develop chronic pain and disability
  • target injured workers who have already developed chronic pain and disability in order to promote safe RTW and minimize negative health impacts
  • promote clinic-workplace interaction

Along with its research agenda, the Centre has a strong knowledge transfer and exchange responsibility. We will identify and invest in our stakeholder groups by listening, learning and responding to their needs for RTW practices and policies, says IWH Knowledge Transfer Associate and CREIDO co-investigator Rhoda Reardon.

CREIDO is scheduled to open in the summer of 2006. Two other Centres – the Centre for Research Expertise in Musculoskeletal Disorders (CRE-MSD) and the Centre for Research Expertise in Occupational Disease (CRE-OD) – have been conducting research since 2004. Our collaborative role with this Centre will foster the development of effective prevention, rehabilitation and sustainable RTW programs for injured workers who develop chronic pain, says IWH President Dr. Cameron Mustard.

Source: At Work, Issue 44, Spring 2006: Institute for Work & Health, Toronto