Adaptation of a Guide to Equip Employers to Manage the Gradual Return to Work of Individuals with a Musculoskeletal Disorder

  • Julie BouffardEmail author
  • Marie-José Durand
  • Marie-France Coutu


Purpose The gradual return to work (GRTW) of injured workers poses numerous challenges for workplaces. The aim of this study was to provide employers with an adapted tool to support them in managing GRTWs following a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD), by adapting the Guide for estimation of margin of manoeuvre (Durand et al. in 7th international scientific conference on prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders, 2010) and then evaluating the acceptability of the adapted version. Methods A mixed methods design was used. Content experts were surveyed about the content and form of a first version of the adapted tool. Proposed modifications were then discussed in a group meeting until consensus was reached on the changes to be made. The acceptability of the new version was determined by conducting semi-structured interviews of potential users. A thematic analysis of the verbatim transcript was performed. Results Nine experts reached a consensus on 20 modifications, which yielded a tool comprising an instruction guide and a planning worksheet. The eight companies consulted found the tool acceptable, useful, and pertinent, but also identified a few changes to be made. Conclusion The use of original methods made it possible to adapt the content of the tool while taking evidence-based data and user needs into account, all of which contributed to its acceptance. The tool will support employers and standardize management of GRTWs following MSD-related sick leaves. Possible avenues for future research emerged from this study: evaluate the acceptability of new formats and a transdiagnostic version of the tool, and consult workers.


Return-to-work Musculoskeletal diseases Workplace Knowledge transfer Guideline 



The principal author wishes to express her gratitude to the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST) for awarding her a master’s degree scholarship that enabled her to conduct this study, and to the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé and the Research Chair in Work Rehabilitation (J. Armand Bombardier ― Pratt & Whitney Canada), for both their financial support in the form of a study scholarship and their logistical support.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Julie Bouffard, Marie-José Durand, and Marie-France Coutu declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Research Ethics Committee of the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants for their inclusion in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Action in Work Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation, Faculty of Medicine and Health SciencesUniversité de SherbrookeLongueuilCanada

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