Jeff Snodgrass; Special Issue on Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses and the Role of Occupational Therapy: Implications of a Systematic Literature Review for Practice, Research, Education, and Policy. Am J Occup Ther 2011;65(1):7-9. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2011.065101.
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Occupational therapy practitioners need to use standardized outcome measures and tools to document and report the outcomes of interventions provided.
More well-designed studies (i.e., randomized controlled trials, nonrandomized cohort studies, outcome analysis) are needed, particularly addressing the effectiveness of occupation-based interventions. This research can be carried out either by occupational therapy practitioners experienced with research design and methodology or in collaboration with other experienced researchers and other disciplines (e.g., ergonomists, physical therapists, physicians).
Similar to the preceding recommendation, outcomes-based studies and randomized controlled trials are needed to examine the effectiveness of occupational therapy interventions as part of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches.
A paradigm shift from the current focus on restoration (i.e., medical, surgical, and rehabilitative approaches) to a sharper focus on primary and secondary prevention strategies to reduce both the incidence and the severity (prevalence) of work-related injuries and illnesses by providing incentives to employers and health care providers;
An emphasis on nonsurgical, early, and aggressive rehabilitation efforts to minimize days away from work and facilitate return to work at maximum capacity and productivity;
Use of functional capacity evaluations as a standardized, objective assessment of an injured worker’s ability to perform essential functions of the job and to facilitate vocational exploration;
Mandatory root cause investigation (medical causation) requirements, conducted by qualified health and occupational safety professionals (e.g., occupational therapists, physical therapists) for work-related injuries and illnesses;
Universal reporting systems for all occupational injuries and illnesses; and
Provision of incentives for and assistance with job training and ergonomic modifications.
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