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


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.

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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.

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Correspondence to Vicki L. Kristman.

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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).

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