Supervisor and Organizational Factors Associated with Supervisor Support of Job Accommodations for Low Back Injured Workers

Abstract

Purpose Temporary job accommodations contribute to the prevention of chronic work disability due to low back pain (LBP) through the facilitation of early return to work; yet, workplace dimensions of job accommodation are poorly understood. The objective of this study was to determine supervisor and organizational factors associated with supervisors’ support for temporary job accommodations for LBP injured workers. Methods Supervisors were recruited from 19 workplaces in the USA and Canada and completed an online survey regarding job accommodation practices and potential associated factors with respect to a case vignette of a worker with LBP. Multivariable linear regression was used to identify the most parsimonious set of factors associated with supervisors’ support for accommodations. Results A total of 804 supervisors participated with 796 eligible for inclusion in the analysis. The final set of factors explained 21 % of the variance in supervisors’ support for temporary job accommodations. Considerate leadership style (β = 0.261; 95 % CI 0.212, 0.310), workplace disability management policies and practices (β = 0.243; 95 % CI 0.188, 0.298), and supervisor autonomy for designing and providing workplace accommodations (β = 0.156; 95 % CI 0.071, 0.241) had the largest effect on supervisor support for accommodations. Conclusion Factors predicting supervisors’ likelihood to accommodate LBP injured workers include use of considerate leadership style, workplace disability management policies and practices, and supervisor autonomy. Workplace interventions targeting these factors should be developed and evaluated for their ability to improve work disability prevention outcomes.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. 1.

    Lorusso A, Bruno S, L’abbate N. A review of low back pain and musculoskeletal disorders among Italian nursing personnel. Ind Health. 2007;45:637–44.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Wasiak R, Kim J, Pransky G. Work disability and costs caused by recurrence of low back pain: longer and more costly than in first episodes. Spine. 2006;31(2):219–25.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Shaw WS, Pransky G, Fitzgerald TE. Early prognosis for low back disability: intervention strategies for health care providers. Disabil Rehabil. 2001;23:815–28.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Loisel P, Durand M-J, Berthelette D, Vézina N, Baril R, Gagnon D, et al. Disability prevention: a new paradigm for the management of occupational back pain. Dis Manag Health Outcomes. 2001;9:351–60.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Shaw WS, Kristman VL, Vézina N. Workplace issues. In: Loisel P, Anema JR, editors. Handbook of work disability: prevention and management. New York: Springer; 2013. p. 163–82.

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Schartz HA, Hendricks DJ, Blanck P. Workplace accommodations: evidence based outcomes. Work. 2006;27:345–54.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Solovieva TI, Dowler DL, Walls RT. Employer benefits from making workplace accommodations. Disabil Health J. 2011;4(1):39–45.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Shaw WS, Pransky G, Patterson W, Winters T. Early disability risk factors for low back pain assessed at outpatient occupational health clinics. Spine. 2005;30:572–80.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Franche RL, Cullen K, Clarke J, Irvin E, Sinclair S, Frank J, et al. Workplace-based return-to-work interventions: a systematic review of the quantitative literature. J Occup Rehabil. 2005;15:607–31.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Schultz IZ, Krupa T, Rogers E. Best practices in accommodating and retaining persons with mental health disabilities at work: answered and unanswered questions. In: Schultz IZ, Rogers E, editors. Work accommodation and retention in mental health. New York: Springer; 2012. p. 445–65.

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Coole C, Watson PJ, Drummond A. Low back pain patients’ experiences of work modifications: a qualitative study. BMC Musculoskel Disord. 2010;11:277.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Stochkendahl MJ, Myburgh C, Young AE, Hartvigsen J. Manager experiences with the return to work process in a large, publically funded, hospital setting: walking a fine line. J Occup Rehabil. 2015;25:752–62.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Shaw WS, Robertson MM, Pransky G, McLellan RK. Employee perspectives on the role of supervisors to prevent workplace disability after injuries. J Occup Rehabil. 2003;13:129–42.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Shaw WS, Robertson MM, McLellan RK, Verma SK, Pransky G. A controlled case study of supervisor training to optimize response to injury in the food processing industry. Work. 2006;26:107–14.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    McLellan RK, Pransky G, Shaw WS. Disability management training for supervisors: a pilot intervention program. J Occup Rehabil. 2001;11:33–41.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Shaw WS, Pransky G, Winters T. The Back Disability Risk Questionnaire (BDRQ) for work-related acute back pain: prediction of unresolved problems at 3-month follow-up. J Occup Environ Med. 2009;51:185–94.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Pransky G, Benjamin K, Hill-Fotouhi C, Fletcher KE, Himmelstein J, Katz JN. Work-related outcomes in occupational low back pain: a multidimensional analysis. Spine. 2002;27:864–70.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Williams-Whitt K. Impediments to disability accommodation. Ind Relat. 2007;62(3):405–32.

    Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Shaw WS, Feuerstein M. Generating workplace accommodations: lessons learned from the Integrated Case Management Study. J Occup Rehabil. 2004;14(3):207–16.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Pransky G, Shaw W, McLellan R. Employer attitudes, training, and return-to-work outcomes: a pilot study. Assist Technol. 2001;13(2):131–8.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Williams-Whitt K, Taras D. Disability and the performance paradox: can social capital bridge the divide? Brit J Ind Relat. 2010;48(3):534–59.

    Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Kristman VL, Shaw WS, Williams-Whitt K. Supervisors’ perspectives on work accommodation for chronically ill employees. In: Stone S-D, Crooks VA, Owen M, editors. Working Bodies: Chronic illness in the Canadian Workplace. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press; 2014. p. 114–37.

    Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Shaw WS, Kristman VL, Williams-Whitt K, Soklaridis S, Huang Y-H, Côté P, et al. The Job Accommodation Scale (JAS): psychometric evaluation of a new measure of employer support for temporary job modifications. J Occup Rehabil. 2014;24:755–65.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Webster BS, Courtney TK, Huang Y-H, Matz S, Christiani DC. Physicians’ initial management of acute low back pain versus evidence-based guidelines. J Gen Intern Med. 2005;20:1132–5.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Webster BS, Courtney TK, Huang Y-H, Matz S, Christiani DC. Survey of acute low back pain management by specialty group and practice experience. J Occup Environ Med. 2006;48(7):723–32.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Taylor BJ. Factorial surveys: using vignettes to study professional judgment. Br J Soc Work. 2006;36:1187–207.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Tamayo-Sarver JH, Dawson NV, Cydulka RK, Wigton RS, Baker DW. Variability in emergency physician decision-making about prescribing opioid analgesics. Ann Emerg Med. 2004;43(4):483–93.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Tamayo-Sarver JH, Dawson NV, Hinze SW, et al. The effect of race/ethnicity and desirable social characteristics on physicians’ decisions to prescribe opioid analgesics. Acad Emerg Med. 2003;10(11):1239–48.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    McGuire C, Kristman VL, Shaw W, Williams-Whitt K, Reguly P, Soklaridis S. Supervisor autonomy and considerate leadership style are associated with supervisors’ likelihood to accommodate back injured workers. J Occup Rehabil. 2015;25(3):589–98.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Bot SDM, Terwee CB, van der Windt DAWM, et al. Internal consistency and validity of a new physical workload questionnaire. Occup Environ Med. 2004;61:980–6.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Hahn SE, Murphy LR. A short scale for measuring safety climate. Safety Sci. 2008;46:1047–66.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Kouvonen A, Kivimaki M, Vahtera J, Oksanen T, Elovainio M, Cox T, et al. Psychometric evaluation of a short measure of social capital at work: finnish Public Sector Study. BMC Public Health. 2006;6:251–61.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Amick BC III, Habeck RV, Hunt A, et al. Measuring the impact of organizational behaviors on work disability prevention and management. J Occup Rehabil. 2000;10:21–38.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Karasek R, Brisson C, Kawakami N, et al. The Job Content Questionnaire (JCQ): an instrument for internationally comparative assessments of psychosocial job characteristics. J Occup Health Psychol. 1998;3(4):322–55.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Halpin AW. Manual for the leader behavior description questionnaire. Columbus: Ohio State University, Bureau of Business Research; 1957.

    Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Stogdill RM, Coons AE, editors. Leader behavior: its description and measurement. Columbus: Ohio State University, Bureau of Business Research; 1957.

    Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Fleishman EA. Twenty years of consideration and structure. In: Fleishman EA, Hunt JG, editors. Current developments in the study of leadership. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press; 1973. p. 1–40.

    Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Bass BM. Bass and Stogdill’s handbook of leadership. New York: Free Press; 1990.

    Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Kuoppala J, Lamminpää A, Liira J, Vainio H. Leadership, job well-being, and health effects: a systematic review and a meta-analysis. J Occup Environ Med. 2008;50:904–15.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Riley JF, Ahern DK, Follick MJ. Chronic pain and functional impairment: assessing beliefs about their relationship. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1988;69:578–82.

    Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Slater MA, Hall HF, Atkinson JH, et al. Pain and impairment beliefs in chronic low back pain: validation of the Pain and Impairment Relationship Scale (PAIRS). Pain. 1991;44:51–6.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Guck TP, Fleischer TD, Willcockson JC, Criscuolo CM, Leibrock LG. Predictive validity of the pain and impairment relationship scale in a chronic nonmalignant pain population. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1999;80(1):91–5.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Hosmer DW, Lemeshow S. Applied logistic regression. 2nd ed. New York: Wiley; 2000.

    Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    Schreuder JAH, Groothoff JW, Jongsma D, van Zweeden NF, van der Klink JJL, Roelen CAM. Leadership effectiveness: a supervisor’s approach to manage return to work. J Occup Rehabil. 2013;23:428–37.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    Kotter JP. A force for change: how leadership differs from management. New York: Free Press; 1990.

    Google Scholar 

  46. 46.

    Kwan HC, Schultz IZ. Work accommodations: a social perspective. In: Schultz IZ, Gatchel RJ, editors. Handbook of return to work. New York: Springer; 2016. p. 271–88.

    Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    Schultz IZ, Milner RA, Hanson DB, Winter A. Employer attitudes towards accommodations in mental health disability. In: Schultz IZ, Rogers E, editors. Work accommodation and retention in mental health. New York: Springer; 2012. p. 325–40.

    Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    Dyck DEG. Disability management: theory, strategy and industry practice. 5th ed. New York: LexisNexis; 2013.

    Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Parker SK, Axtell CM, Turner N. Designing a safer workplace: importance of job autonomy, communication quality, and supportive supervisors. J Occup Health Psychol. 2001;6:211–28.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  50. 50.

    McKnight HD, Ahmad S, Schroeder RG. Why do feedback, incentive control, and autonomy improve morale? The importance of employee–management relationship closeness. J Manag Issues. 2001;4:466–82.

    Google Scholar 

  51. 51.

    Barrick MR, Mount MK. Autonomy as a moderator of the relationships between the Big Five personality dimensions and job performance. J Appl Psychol. 1993;78:111–8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. 52.

    Kouvonen A, Oksanen T, Vahtera J, Stafford M, Wilkinson R, Schneider J, et al. Low workplace social capital as a predictor of depression: Finnish Public Sector Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2008;167(10):1143–51.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  53. 53.

    Oksanen T, Kouvonen A, Kivimaki M, Pentti J, Virtanen M, Linna A, et al. Social capital at work as a predictor of employee health: multilevel evidence from work units in Finland. Soc Sci Med. 2008;66:637–49.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  54. 54.

    Tjulin A, MacEachen E, Ekberg K. Exploring workplace actors experiences of the social organization of return-to-work. J Occup Rehabil. 2010;20:311–21.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  55. 55.

    Malhotra R. The legal genealogy of the duty to accommodate American and Canadian workers with disabilities: a comparative perspective. Wash. U. J. L. & Pol’y. 2007. http://openscholarship.wustl.edu/law_journal_law_policy/vol23/iss1/2. Accessed 10 Feb 2016.

Download references

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Grant MOP-102571, Supervisors’ perspectives on accommodating back injured workers: A mixed methods study (PI: V Kristman) and by intramural research funding (Project LMRIS 09-01) of the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety (PI: WS Shaw). Dr. Kristman is supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research through a New Investigator Award in Community-based Primary Health Care.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Vicki L. Kristman.

Ethics declarations

Conflicts of interest

None to declare.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kristman, V.L., Shaw, W.S., Reguly, P. et al. Supervisor and Organizational Factors Associated with Supervisor Support of Job Accommodations for Low Back Injured Workers. J Occup Rehabil 27, 115–127 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10926-016-9638-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • Job accommodation
  • Supervisor
  • Predictors
  • Return to work
  • Disability management