Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 68–79 | Cite as

Practices and Processes Used in the Return to Work of Injured New South Wales nurses: Are These Consistent With RTW Best Practice Principles?

  • Carole JamesEmail author
  • Michelle Antoine
  • Maya Guest
  • Darren Rivett
  • Ashley Kable


Purpose Workplace injury and illness rates are high within the nursing profession, and in conjunction with current nursing shortages, low retention rates, and the high cost of workplace injury, the need for effective return to work (RTW) for injured nurses is highlighted. This study aimed to identify current practices and processes used in the RTW of injured nurses, and determine if these are consistent with the seven principles for successful RTW as described by the Canadian Institute for Work & Health. Method As part of a larger cross-sectional study, survey data were collected from New South Wales nurses who had sustained a major workplace injury or illness. Survey questions were coded and matched to the seven principles for successful RTW. Results Of the 484 surveys eligible for analysis, most were from Registered Nurses (52%) in the Public Hospital Sector (48%). Responses indicated four main areas of concern: a commitment to health and safety by the workplace; early and considerate employer contact; provision of modified work; and individual knowledge of and involvement in the RTW process. Positive participant responses to co-worker and supervisor involvement were identified as areas consistent with best practice principles. Conclusions These findings suggest the practices and processes involved in the RTW of injured nurses are inconsistent with best practice principles for RTW, highlighting the need for interventions such as targeted employer education and training for improved industry RTW outcomes.


Nurses Occupational rehabilitation Best practice Return to work Workplace disability 



The authors would like to thank those nurses who participated in this study. Research for the initial study ‘The Outcome of Occupational Rehabilitation of Injured NSW Nurses’ 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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carole James
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michelle Antoine
    • 1
  • Maya Guest
    • 1
  • Darren Rivett
    • 1
  • Ashley Kable
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Health SciencesThe University of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  2. 2.School of Nursing and MidwiferyUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia

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