Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 111–124 | Cite as

How Well Do We Report on Compensation Systems in Studies of Return to Work: A Systematic Review

  • Fiona J. Clay
  • Janneke Berecki-Gisolf
  • Alex Collie


Purpose Occupational injury and work-related disability is a significant public health problem. For published research to provide a collective knowledge base for return to work (RTW) policy and practice, features of the compensation system relevant to the research must be described clearly. The level of the reporting on compensation system features is yet to be established. The aim of the present study was to synthesize the evidence for the reporting on compensation systems in prognostic studies of RTW following work-related injuries. Methods A systematic review of the literature was conducted. Ovid Medline and EMBASE were searched for studies published 1996–2011. Included studies were prognostic studies of RTW or work disability following work-related acute traumatic injuries. Results The initial search yielded 952 articles; 37 articles fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The majority of studies were based on clinical practice; eight studies were based on administrative data. Only two studies reported seven or more compensation features and two studies reported four to six. The majority of studies (19/37) did not report on any aspect of the compensation system that study participants were interacting with. The most common information reported was the extent of coverage at the population level (7/37) and the availability of wage replacement entitlements (7/37). The name of the compensation system was provided in 5 studies. Conclusions Overall reporting on compensation systems in prognostic studies of RTW needs to be improved if research evidence is to inform policy and practice. Compensation system features that could be reported are provided.


Workers compensation systems Traumatic injuries Return to work Reporting 



The authors wish to thank the following key researchers for providing opinion on the reporting on compensation systems in research studies. Genevieve Grant, Robert Guthrie, Rebbecca Lilley, Katherine Lippel, Kevin Purse, Jeanne Sears. The authors acknowledge assistance from Adrian Buzgau and Andrew Palagyi in regards to data storage. All authors receive research funding from the Transport Accident Commission and WorkSafe Victoria. Neither funder had any involvement in the study design; collection, analysis and interpretation of data; the writing of the manuscript and the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.

Ethical standards

All human studies included in this review have been approved by the appropriate ethics committee and have therefore been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fiona J. Clay
    • 1
    • 2
  • Janneke Berecki-Gisolf
    • 2
  • Alex Collie
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Safety Compensation and Recovery ResearchMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Injury Outcomes Research Unit, Monash Injury Research InstituteMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia

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