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Case management interviews have a strong impact on return to work

At a glance:
A face-to-face meeting between a case manager and an employee creates a forum in which concerns, benefits and the process of returning to work can be addressed. Active participation from the employee results in positive outcomes.
This study demonstrated that a meeting with your case manager is likely to assist your return to work. The interviews in this study occurred within a few months of the person being off work. Return to work outcomes improved through two-way communication. By meeting with a case manager you will gain a better understanding of the situation, how the system works, what will happen to your pay, and what opportunities are available. Also the Case Manager will gain a better understanding of you, barriers to your return to work, the overall situation and how to help you.

As other research on this site indicates, being off work in the long-term have negative outcomes. It affects a person's mental, physical, and spiritual well-being, and that of their family. The greatest level of problems occur when someone is off work for a few weeks, becomes habituated to not working but doesn't see the negative consequences of worklessness in the year ahead and beyond.

When the employee becomes an active and disciplined driver of a return to work, the results are better. When meeting with a case manager, raise issues about the workplace that you think need change.

Outcomes are usually better when you contribute positive input. Take a list of possible changes and suggested solutions to your meeting with your Case Manager. This is better than a list of problems and grievances.

When you contribute positively, it is more likely that others will reciprocate in kind.
Communication makes a difference. This study says that improved outcomes result through face-to-face meetings within a month or two of the person being off work.

Getting to know someone, giving them information about the system, developing a relationship and creating two-way communication has been shown to positively impact outcomes in a number of studies, including this one.
When all parties share information, outcomes are improved. If you have a difficult case and things are not progressing smoothly, a meeting may help. The patient needs to be an active participant and want to be involved. A meeting without positive input from the individual is likely to be counter-productive. Sometimes a face-to-face meeting with the relevant parties can clarify issues, provide solutions, and indicate a way forward.

A meeting may take longer, but if the long-term outcome is improved, it will have been worthwhile.
This study shows that face-to-face meetings between the employee and the case manager improve outcomes. Although performed in a different country and using a different scheme, the results are applicable. The authors suggest that the sharing of information is a key factor. The employee is given information about the system, how it works, what is the likely path forward. The case manager is given information about where the person is at, their overall situation and what changes at work might make a difference. Both parties are then able to understand each other.
Original Article, Authors & Publication Details:
Jan Høgelund a, Anders Holmbb, (2006).

Case management interviews and the return to work of disabled employees. Journal of Health Economics; 25(3):500-519.

a Danish National Institute of Social Research, Herluf Trolles Gade 11, DK-1052 Copenhagen K, Denmark
bCentre for Applied Microeconomics, University of Copenhagen, Studiestræde 6, DK-1455 Copenhagen K, Denmark
Background, Study Objectives, How It Was Done:
Communication with the individual is an important part of assisting them back to work.

Case management, or management of an individual case by a coordinated and team approach, is accepted to be successful in the early stages of an employee being off work. However, there have been few evaluations of case management interviews that are effective in situations where the individual has been off work for long periods.

This study was undertaken in Denmark, where there is no distinction between sick leave caused by work injuries and non work-related conditions. Wage replacement up to the amount that equals maximum unemployment benefit is provided for up to 52 weeks in an 18 month period. The authors indicated that Danish labour market policy is deregulated, enabling employers to dismiss a sick listed employee with ease. A survey shortly before the paper was written found that 35% of employees were dismissed after they had been sick listed for more than eight weeks. A substantial proportion of sick listed employees return to work for a new rather than pre-illness employer.

Case management options for those on sick leave included subsidies for new employers, the provision of education or training, and assistance with finding another job.

Case management interviews were undertaken relatively early in the period of sickness. It was therefore expected the interview would have a motivational effect on return to the pre-injury or illness employer. It was thought that the case management interview would support transfer of information between the employee and the employer.
Study Findings:
1685 sick listed employees were interviewed in October - November 2002, 18 months after their first day of work incapacity, and 10 months after termination of sickness benefits.

A case management interview was obtained from 1393 people. This was typically within a few months of being off work. 65% of sick listed employees participated in at least one case management interview.

The study found that case management interviews had a positive 10% significance level to returning to work. On more detailed analysis it was found case management interviews had a positive and strong impact on returning to work for the pre-illness employer. However, there was minimal impact on returning to work for a new employer.

The authors commented that the case management interview had a short-term effect. They felt it improved the exchange of information, possibly enhancing the pre-illness employer retaining the employee. However, the case management interview did not speed up the process of people commencing use of vocational
Related to work or career. Vocational rehabilitation focuses on the process of returning to the workforce.
 services, or obtaining a job with a new employer.
A face-to-face interview enhances information exchange, particularly giving the individual an understanding of their benefits, the system of payments for the future, creates enhanced communication between the employee and employer. In this study an interview with the case manager enhanced return to work with the pre-injury employer.
PubMed Abstract
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