Research tells us that returning to work actively improves the recovery of injured workers. In fact, the sooner, the better – an extended amount of time away from work can actually harm recovery. Here’s what you need to know as a GP, including the evidence that underpins the idea that employment is beneficial to health and wellbeing.

What did the research find?

Two systematic reviews and meta-analyses found evidence that employment is beneficial to health. The data revealed:

  • a causal relationship showing the health benefits of returning to work1
  • returning to work can reverse adverse health effects that are associated with job loss and being out of work2, 3
  • beneficial effects of work are higher for persons returning within six months4
  • there is a protective effect of work on depression and general mental health5, 6
  • the overall beneficial effects of work outweigh the risks of work7.

This is why rehabilitation and returning to work are central pillars of WA’s workers’ compensation scheme – it’s a key part of the recovery process for injured workers.

Want to explore the research yourself?

Here are links to the relevant research papers:

Find out how to use our certificates of capacity to support your injury management plans and improve your patients’ return to work programs.

1, 2, 4Reuda, S et al. (2012) ‘Association of Returning to Work with Better Health in Working-Aged Adults: a systematic review’. American Journal of Public Health; 102:541-556.

3, 5, 7Waddell, G and Burton, K (2006) ‘Is work good for your health and wellbeing?’ London: TSO.

6Van der Noordt et al. (2014) ‘Health Effects of Employment: a systematic review of prospective studies’. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine; 71:730-736.