Telephonic support to facilitate return to work: what works, how, and when?

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Burton, Kim
Kendall, Nicholas
McCluskey, Serena
Dibben, Pauline
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There is wide acceptance that work is (generally) good for our health and wellbeing, and that this is true for most working-age people, including those with health problems. A timely return to work for people with health problems, therefore, is a desirable goal. The Government has proposed a new service to help people with (common) health problems to return to work in a timely manner. Telephonic contact is an attractive approach with the potential to provide targeted delivery of the right support to the right people at the right time, but that begs the question – do such approaches offer the desired advantages? While telephonic methods are increasingly used to deliver various health services, there are important questions around safety, effectiveness, acceptability and relative costs. The aim of this review was to provide an evidence base for the use of telephonic assessment and support to facilitate timely return to work for people with common health problems. Recognising that the academic literature on the topic may be limited, documentary evidence was also sought from professional practice and grey literature sources. Data from 83 peerreviewed academic articles, 10 practice exemplars and 28 grey literature documents were extracted into evidence tables. Using a best evidence synthesis, high-level evidence statements were developed and linked to the supporting evidence, which was graded to indicate the level of support. The evidence statements are organised to cover four pertinent areas of telephonic support: assessment and triage; case management; information and advice; return to work. The evidence on important aspects of implementation – safety, acceptability, timing, cost-benefits, required skills – was further explored and interpreted.

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Human Resources Management

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