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Results were published for a study concluded in 2015 on an early intervention program meant to address the psychosocial issues of injured workers with soft tissue injuries. The study set out to determine whether administering a questionnaire to injured workers could identify those at risk for delayed return to work to improve return-to-work estimates. The Work Injury Screening and Early intervention (WISE) study conducted by Michael Nicholas, Director of Pain Education and Pain Management Programs at the Pain Management Research Institute (PMRI), in cooperation with colleagues at NSW Department of Health, iCare (Insurance & Care NSW) and Employers Mutual Workers Compensation (EML) demonstrates the significance and effectiveness of implementing the Örebro Musculoskeletal Pain Screening Questionnaire-short version (ÖMPSQ-SF).

The study examined two case management methods: 1) A control group supervised by the standard (stepped) care plan, and 2) An intervention group identified at risk for delayed return to work according to the ÖMPSQ-SF. The latter group received psychological assessment and comprehensive treatment to address hindrances impeding return to work.  

Administered to forecast the time interval of an injured worker’s return to pre-injury work duties, the (ÖMPSQ-SF) was given to injured workers by insurance case managers. To predict days to return to pre-injury duties, Cox proportional hazards regression analysis was employed using the ÖMPSQ-SF. The receiver operator characteristic (ROC) analysis determined the ÖMPSQ-SF evaluation of sensitivity (detecting injured workers prone to more lost time) and specificity (detecting injured workers prone to less lost time) to identify whether injured workers returned to pre-injury duties within 2–7 weeks.

The total score of the injured worker’s ÖMPSQ-SF provided significant results, indicating that when conducted within 15 days of a worker’s injury, the ÖMPSQ-SF proves successful for identifying injured workers prone to delayed return to work, with a prime cut-off of 50/100. Moreover, the two-year follow-up results found that compared to the control group, the intervention group experienced less than half the average number of lost work days and 30% lower claim costs.  

An advocate for administering early intervention tools to identify injured workers’ psychosocial status post-injury, these results present a win-win-win for workers, employers and insurers and forecast impressive success for improving delayed return-to-work cases at a substantial return on investment. 

IMCS – Integrated Medical Case Solutions – is the premier behavioral medicine network for pain and trauma response with evidence-based outcomes and a proven track record for transforming workers’ compensation cases. IMCS makes intervention efficient with a national network of 1,500+ psychologists and psychiatrists in all 50 states.