Effectiveness of workplace-based and systems-based return-to-work programs: a systematic review update

Reasons for the study

A systematic review of workplace-based return-to-work (RTW) interventions was carried out by the Institute and published in 2004. The review included studies published between January 1990 and December 2003. This project is an update of the original work using an enlarged scope of review to examine the process dimensions of workplace-based RTW and work disability management interventions/support. This project includes and updates both the quantitative and qualitative literature. The updated review facilitated the integration of high quality best practice research evidence into the development of return-to-work policies and programs.

Objectives of the study

  • To update the quantitative and qualitative research on the effectiveness of workplace-based RTW programs and of system jurisdictional RTW programs and policies
  • To update the Seven ‘Principles’ for Successful Return to Work guide based on the findings, if necessary

Anticipated results/impact

Workplace and systems stakeholders responsible for RTW and disability management will be kept abreast of the latest research on what makes workplace- and systems-based RTW programs effective.

Related scientific publications

Cullen KL, Irvin E, Gensby U, Jennings P, Hogg-Johnson S, Kristman V, Laberge M, McKenzie D, Newnam S, Shourie S, Steenstra I, Van Eerd D, Amick B. Effective workplace-based return-to-work interventions: a systematic review update. Institute for Work & Health; 2017.

Related presentations

Related interviews and articles

Making the best of RTW interventions. Canadian HR Reporter: Thomson Reuters (Toronto, ON). April 17, 2017. Available from: http://www.iwh.on.ca/system/files/documents/chrr_making_the_best_of_rtw_interventions_2017.pdf
Effective workplace return-to-work interventions are multi-faceted: IWH review. At Work: Institute for Work & Health; No. 87, Winter 2017.

Project status


Research team

Emma Irvin, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
Ben Amick, Institute for Work & Health
Caroline Cawley, Institute for Work & Health
Kim Cullen, Institute for Work & Health
Sheilah Hogg-Johnson, Institute for Work & Health
Agnieszka Kosny, Institute for Work & Health
Vicki Kristman, Institute for Work & Health
Quenby Mahood, Institute for Work & Health
Ron Saunders, Institute for Work & Health
Dwayne Van Eerd, Institute for Work & Health
Alex Collie, Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research
Sharon Newman, Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research
Andrew Palagyi, Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research
Rasa Ruseckaite, Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research
Swati Shourie, Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research
Ulrik Gensby, Norway National Centre for Occupational Rehabilitation
Paul Jennings, Monash University
Diane Sheppard, Monash University
Marie Laberge, University of Quebec

Participating organizations

Infrastructure Health & Safety Association
Injured Workers’ Consultants
Ontario Public Service Employees Union
Public Services Health & Safety Association
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board
Workplace Safety & Prevention Services
Workplace Safety North

Funded by

Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research