Effective workplace-based return-to-work interventions: a systematic review update

What workplace-based interventions are effective in helping employees return to work after a period of absence?

This systematic review is an update of a 2004 systematic review by IWH, the findings of which have been synthesized into the Seven "Principles" of Successful Return to Work.

A substantial research literature now exists on return-to-work interventions delivered in the workplace. This update expands upon the original systematic review in that it includes work absences not just due to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) but also due to mental health and pain-related conditions. 

The research team found strong evidence that for MSDs and pain disorders, implementing a multi-domain intervention (with a mix of health services, case coordination or work modification) can help reduce lost time. For mental health conditions, implementing a work-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) intervention can help reduce lost time and costs associated with work disability. The team also found  traditional CBT intervention has no effect on reducing lost time for mental health conditions.



Full report: 


Cullen K, 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 BC