Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 157–161

Introduction to the Special Section: Sustainability of Work with Chronic Health Conditions

  • William S. Shaw
  • Torill H. Tveito
  • Cécile R. L. Boot


Background The increasing prevalence of older workers and chronic health conditions represents a growing occupational health concern. More research is needed to understand risk factors, apply and adapt theories, and test workplace-focused interventions that might prevent work disability and disengagement among chronically ill workers. Methods A 2-h roundtable symposium involving 28 participants was held at an international conference (Second Scientific Conference on Work Disability Prevention & Integration, Groningen, The Netherlands) in October 2012. In that symposium, small groups of participants were invited to discuss theoretical, methodological, and implementation considerations for studying workplace function and well-being among workers with chronic health conditions. As a follow-up to the symposium, the organizers invited authors to submit original articles to a Special Section of the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation for peer review and publication. Results Results of the symposium reflected the need to address social, not just physical, aspects of the workplace, to include both individual-level and organizational interventions, and to integrate employer perspectives and operational models. Contributions to the Special Issue focus on outcome measurement, symptom self-management at work, job accommodations, prognostic factors for disability escalation, and the perceived needs of affected workers. Conclusions The content of the Special Section reflects an evolving body of research that continues to grapple with basic issues around choice of outcome measures, level of intervention, and the optimal ways to meet the needs of workers with chronic health conditions, including supporting efforts to manage symptoms and function at work. Future research should focus on integrating organizational and individual-level interventions.


Workplace self-management Chronic illness Pain Disability prevention Research agenda 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • William S. Shaw
    • 1
    • 2
  • Torill H. Tveito
    • 3
    • 4
  • Cécile R. L. Boot
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.Liberty Mutual Research Institute for SafetyHopkintonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Family Medicine and Community HealthUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  3. 3.Clinic Physical Medicine and RehabilitationVestfold Hospital TrustStavernNorway
  4. 4.Uni Health, Uni ResearchBergenNorway
  5. 5.Department of Public and Occupational Health, EMGO Institute for Health and Care ResearchVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Body@Work, Research Center Physical Activity, Work and HealthTNO-VU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  7. 7.Institute for Work and HealthTorontoCanada

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