Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 220–227 | Cite as

The Return-To-Work Coordinator Role: Qualitative Insights for Nursing

  • Carole JamesEmail author
  • Erica Southgate
  • Ashley Kable
  • Darren A. Rivett
  • Maya Guest
  • Joanna Bohatko-Naismith


Introduction Few studies have examined the role of RTW Coordination from the perspective of RTW Coordinator’s. Furthermore there is little health specific literature on returning injured nurses to work despite the critical workforce shortages of these professionals. The study aimed to examine barriers and facilitators identified by the RTW Coordinator to returning injured nurses to work and influences on specific health sector or geographic location. The study sought to gain insights into the professional backgrounds and everyday work practices of RTW Coordinators. Method Five focus groups were conducted in metropolitan and rural areas of NSW, Australia. Twenty-five RTW Coordinators from 14 different organisations participated in the study. The focus groups included participants representing different health sectors (aged, disability, public and private hospital and community health). Results The data analysis identified information pertaining to the qualifications and backgrounds of RTW Coordinators; the role of RTW Coordinators’ within organisational structures; a range of technical knowledge and personal qualities for RTW Coordination and important elements of the case management style used to facilitate RTW. Conclusions The findings identified a wide range of professional backgrounds that RTW Coordinators bring to the role and the impact of organisational structures on the ability to effectively undertake RTW responsibilities. The study found that interpersonal skills of RTW Coordinators may be more important to facilitate RTW than a healthcare background. A collaborative case management style was also highlighted and the difficulties associated with juggling conflicts of interest, multiple organisational roles and the emotional impact of the work.


Workplace based return to work RTW coordinators Health sector Qualitative 



This research was funded under the WorkCover NSW WorkCover Assist Program. The research conclusions are those of the authors and any views expressed are not necessarily those of WorkCover NSW.

Conflicts of interests

The authors were employees of the University of Newcastle during the conduct of this study. These authors and organisation have no financial interests that may be affected by the content of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carole James
    • 1
    Email author
  • Erica Southgate
    • 2
  • Ashley Kable
    • 3
  • Darren A. Rivett
    • 1
  • Maya Guest
    • 1
  • Joanna Bohatko-Naismith
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Health Sciences, Faculty of HealthUniversity of NewcastleNewcastleAustralia
  2. 2.School of Education, Faculty of Education and ArtsUniversity of NewcastleNewcastleAustralia
  3. 3.School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of HealthUniversity of NewcastleNewcastleAustralia

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