Applied Research

The Work Injury Screening & Early Intervention (WISE) study

The Work Injury Screening & Early Intervention (WISE) study evaluated the implementation of an early risk screening and psychosocial management intervention instituted for employees with acute soft tissue injuries within a large hospital network in Australia.

The screening used the 10-item Orebro Musculoskeletal Pain Screening Questionnaire (OMPSQ-10) which was administered over the phone by the insurance case manager within the first week of an injured worker taking time off work due to their musculoskeletal injury. Those scoring above the cut-off of C50/100 were offered the opportunity to address their concerns with a nominated psychologist (in addition to usual care by their treating doctor and physical therapist). Any work-related issues identified by the psychologist or workplace return to work coordinator were to be addressed simultaneously at the workplace.

The protocol incorporated collaborative input from the key stakeholders (workplace, insurer, treatment providers, and injured worker). While this study has only just been completed, the employer (the NSW State Health Department) has recognised its value (to date the savings have amounted to 22 % for the high-risk intervention group over the similar control group, and mean lost work days of 30 vs 64, respectively, over the year following injury) and it is now being implemented as standard practice for all public hospitals in that state. In addition, planning is underway to change the guidelines covering the early management of injured workers generally across the state.

The project provides a practical example of how a theoretical model (Aarons et al.) can be used to address likely implementation barriers within a complex workers compensation insurance environment.

The final results will be available early in 2017.

References

Aarons, G.A., Hurlburt, M., Horwitz, S.M. (2011). Advancing a conceptual model of evidence-based practice implementation in public service sectors. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 38:4–23. [More information]

Franche, R-L., Baril, R., Shaw, W., Nicholas, M.K., Loisel, P. (2005). Workplace-based return-to-work interventions: Optimizing the role of stakeholders in implementation and research. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 15(4): 525-542. [More information]

Linton, S.L., Nicholas, M.K., MacDonald, S. (2012). Development of a Short Form of the Örebro Musculoskeletal Pain Screening Questionnaire. Spine 36(22): 1891-95. [More information]

Nicholas, M.K., Linton, S.J., Watson, P.J., Main, C.J. (2011). The early identification and management of psychological risk factors (Yellow Flags) in patients with low back pain: A reappraisal. Physical Therapy 91: 737-753. [More information]

Study Publications to Date

Main, C. J., Nicholas, M. K., Shaw, W. S., Tetrick, L. E., Ehrhart, M. G., Pransky, G., … Young. (2016). Implementation Science and Employer Disability Practices: Embedding Implementation Factors in Research Designs. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 26(4), 448–464. [Read here]

Nicholas, M. (2016). Preventing disabling chronic pain by engaging psychologists in the acute phase. InPsych: The Bulletin of the Australian Psychological Society Ltd, 38(4), 12. [Read here]

WISE Study Consortium

The WISE study was led by the Director of Pain Education and Pain Management Programs at the Pain Management Research Institute, Professor Michael Nicholas in collaboration with NSW Health, EML and icare.

MAIN COLLABORATORS
USYD logo. Prof Michael Nicholas, Dr Garry Pearce, Dr Mick Gleeson, Dr Rafael Pinto, Dr Dan Costa
EML logo. Karen Munk, Tamara Sprod, Rachel Elmes, and Claims managers & staff at EML
icare logo. Robert Lloyd, Susan Rafty
NSW Health logo. Michele Murphy and RTW coordinators at each hospital
 
INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS
  • Prof Steven Linton (Sweden)
  • Prof William Shaw (USA)
  • Prof Chris Main (UK)
  • Prof Rob Smeets (Netherlands)
AUSTRALIAN PARTNERS
  • Prof Chris Maher (University of Sydney)
  • Dr James McAuley (UNSW)
  • Prof Fiona Blyth (University of Sydney)
  • Mr Andrew McGarity (Fire & Rescue NSW)

Awards

2016 icare TMF awards - Joint winner of the Framework and Systems Category

2016 icare TMF award.


The Work Injury Screening & Early Intervention (WISE) study consortium: NSW Health, EML, icare and The University of Sydney - Pain Management Research Institute (PMRI), has been named joint winner of the Framework and Systems section of the 2016 icare TMF awards.

This is the second major award for the WISE study, cementing the Pain Management Research Institute's position as a global leader in innovative pain management.



University of Sydney WISE Study team.

The University of Sydney team: Dr Mick Gleeson (left), Prof Michael Nicholas (centre) and Dr Garry Pearce (right)

The Awards for Excellence in Risk Management have become a major occasion for government agencies to share their experience and learnings in both preventive and post-incident risk management.

icare CEO Vivek Bhatia said, "Each of our winners are role models in the public and private sector for implementing leading edge ideas in workplace injury prevention and safety strategies by pioneering new systems, processes, and design." [Read more]

For more information about the icare TMF awards, please see the icare website.

Swiss RE Excellence & Innovation in Return to Work Award 2015/2016

EML the insurance partner and joint funder of the Work Injury Screening and Early Intervention (WISE) study has won the Swiss RE Excellence & Innovation in Return to Work Award
2015/2016, highlighting the importance of early intervention to improve return-to-work rates after injury. [Read the EML Award Summary]

The study confirmed the value of psychosocial screening and early intervention for injured workers at risk of delayed recovery after injury to reduce the economic burden on insurers and employers.