Accommodating and communicating about episodic disabilities (ACED): A partnership to deliver workplace resources to sustain employment of people with chronic, episodic conditions

Reasons for the study

Episodic conditions, including arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's and colitis, depression and anxiety, are often unpredictable and invisible to others, with symptoms that fluctuate from one period in time to another. As such, they create unique challenges in managing workplace disabilities, particularly in implementing privacy and duty-to-accommodate policies. This study aims to enhance the work sustainability and support provided to Canadians with episodic mental and physical health conditions through the development of easily accessed, evidence-based tools, resources and training that protects privacy and facilitates communication and accommodation planning among workers, supervisors and other workplace parties.

Objectives of the study

  • Consolidate and enhance existing evidence for toolkit development
  • Develop new evidence-informed resources, including a communication decision-making tool; interactive job analysis and accommodation planning tool; and skills training workshops for supervisors and HR/disability managers
  • Pilot test and evaluate the toolkit in diverse workplaces, including conducting cost analyses
  • Expand the evidence base to include greater attention to sex/gender, age/life course, diverse employment contexts and episodic conditions
  • Develop new researcher capacity in disability studies
  • Build new workplace partners for testing and dissemination

Anticipated results/impact

This research is relevant to workers with chronic, episodic conditions, employers, human resources professionals, disability managers, occupational health professionals, insurers, government bodies, and community organizations focused on aging, employment, disability and/or caregiving. Its findings will be relevant to programs aimed at reducing at-work disability, improving work productivity and ensuring the employment sustainability of Canadian workers with episodic disabilities.

Project status


Research team

Monique Gignac, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
Dorcas Beaton, Institute for Work & Health
Julie Bowring, Institute for Work & Health
Curtis Breslin, Institute for Work & Health
Emma Irvin, Institute for Work & Health
Arif Jetha, Institute for Work & Health
Ron Saunders, Institute for Work & Health
Peter Smith, Institute for Work & Health
Emile Tompa, Institute for Work & Health
Dwayne Van Eerd, Institute for Work & Health
Renée-Louise Franche, Simon Fraser University
Joy MacDermid, University of Western Ontario
William Shaw, University of Connecticut Health Center
Aaron Thompson, University of Toronto

Participating organizations

Canadian Mental Health Association
Crohn's & Colitis Canada
Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace
Mindful Employer Canada
Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada
Ontario Ministry of Labour
Realize Canada
The Arthritis Society
University of Toronto

Funded by

Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada Signature Initiative