Background: Despite considerable multidisciplinary research on return to work (RTW), there has been only modest progress in implementation of study results, and little change in overall rates of work disability in developed countries. Methods: Thirty RTW researchers, representing over 20 institutions, assembled to review the current state of the art in RTW research, to identify promising areas for further development, and to provide direction for future investigations. Results and Conclusion: Six major themes were selected as priority areas: early risk prediction; psychosocial, behavioral and cognitive interventions; physical treatments; the challenge of implementing evidence in the workplace context; effective methods to engage multiple stakeholders; and identification of outcomes that are relevant to both RTW stakeholders and different phases of the RTW process. Understanding and preventing delayed RTW will require application of new concepts and study designs, better measures of determinants and outcomes, and more translational research. Greater stakeholder involvement and commitment, and methods to address the unique challenges of each situation are required.
- Occupational diseases/rehabilitation
- Outcomes research
- Return to work
- Work-related musculoskeletal disorders