Experts' perspective on a definition for delayed return-to-work after surgery for nontraumatic upper extremity disorders: Recommendations and implications
Peters SE, Coppieters MW, Ross M, and Johnston V.
Journal of Hand Therapy (in press).
Study Design: Descriptive study.
Introduction: A delayed return to work (RTW) is often associated with poorer outcomes after a workplace injury but is ill defined.
Purpose of the Study: To define delayed RTW after surgery for nontraumatic upper extremity conditions.
Methods: Experts were consulted to define delayed RTW and whether a universal time point can determine the transition from early to delayed RTW.
Results: Forty-two experts defined a delayed RTW as either a worker not returning to preinjury (or similar) work within the expected time frame (45%); not returning to any type of work (36%); or recovering slower than expected (12%). Two-thirds of experts believed that universal time points to delineate delayed RTW should be avoided.
Discussion: Multiple factors complicate a uniform definition of delayed RTW.
Conclusion: Defining delayed RTW should be individualized with due consideration to the type of work. Time-based cutoffs for outcome measurement may not be appropriate with continuous measures more appropriate in research.
Level of Evidence: Decision analysis V.
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The Brisbane Hand and Upper Limb Research Institute was established in 2010 to facilitate and coordinate upper limb clinical and basic science research across the private and public sector in Brisbane, Queensland Australia.