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Supporting supervisors to improve return-to-work outcomes of injured or ill workers

Partner agencies: 
Department of Jobs and Small Business
Registration date: 
Thursday, 7 February 2019

Increasing the number of injured and/or ill employees who are able to make a sustainable return-to-work (RTW) is an important goal for all organisations; and a workplace policy priority within the public sector. This study aims to contribute to the evidence base about how to support sustainable RTW.Research shows that improving the manager-employee relationship can assist in sustainable RTW. BETA has developed materials, drawing on insights from psychology, to guide managers in their conversations with ill/injured employees. This study will investigate whether this intervention improves RTW outcomes.

Additional trial information

Intervention start and end date: Monday, 11 February 2019 to Friday, 28 June 2019 (TBC)

Ethics approval: Bellberry Limited 2018-11-978, 29/01/19

BETA ethics pre-registration number: BETA ETH 2017 - 003, 10 January 2017

Experimental design: A convergent integrated mixed-methods design – relying on both qualitative and quantitative data, collected simultaneously. Qualitative data will be obtained through interviews and focus groups, and will be integrated with quantitative data from surveys and administrative data collection.

Summary and descriptive statistics will be used to describe the sample. Additionally, a number of bivariate associations will be undertaken, such as cross-tabulating time on leave with satisfaction, or type of injury with satisfaction.

No randomisation will be involved, as the mixed-methods design will contrast a comparison group against the intervention group.

Intervention(s): A package of behaviourally informed materials will be distributed to managers of employees requiring a return-to-work (RTW) process.

Control condition: This is not a randomised controlled trial so there will be no control group. However, the comparison group for the study will be workers who have been involved in the RTW process prior to the roll out of intervention materials (i.e. those who underwent RTW in 2018).


Primary outcomes:

  • RTW status at trial end date
  • Duration of leave from work

Secondary outcomes:

  • Supervisor’s level of confidence in managing an employee on RTW and their behaviours
  • Employee’s rating of helpfulness of supervisor contact
  • Perceived level of supervisor support

Expected sample size: 80 cases in the treatment group and a similar number in the comparison group.

Registration number: ACTRN12619000166178

Other: ANZCTR pre-registration

Su Mon Kyaw-Myint 2019. Supporting supervisors to improve return-to-work outcomes of injured or ill workers. ANZCTR. February 5.