In September 2013, the Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR) conducted and presented research into “The experiences of injured workers in workers’ compensation systems: A systematic review of international literature. This “project” was (again) funded by WorkSafe Victoria and the Transport Accident Commission (TAC).
The experiences of injured workers – unnecessary research funded by WorkSafe VIC and TAC
They concluded that “Significant mental health, social and vocational consequences arise as a result of the interactions between injured workers and insurers in workers’ compensation systems, and that psychosocial consequences complicates recovery for injured workers.” Hellooo!
Oh, and by the way, was anyone of you invited to participate in this research? As popular advocates for injured workers, we certainly (and obscurely) were not invited! LOL.
The experiences of injured workers in workers’ compensation systems: A systematic review of international literature
The experiences of injured workers
Beardwood B et al 2005, Cacciacarro L and B Kirsh 2006, Cromie J et al 2003, Hubertsson J et al 2011, Jaye C and R Fitzgerald 2010, Lippel K 2007, Kosny A et al 2011,MacEachen E et al 2007, MacEachen E et al 2010, Murray M 2007, Reid J et al 1991, Robert-Yates C 2003, Strunin L and L Boden 2004.
Interviews and focus groups:
- 845 injured workers (which ones?),
- peer support workers,
- healthcare providers,
- community advocates (who?)
- legal and union representatives and
- workers compensation staff (really?)
Variety of occupations
Vast majority physical injury claims, only 11 mental health primary claims
- Injured workers and Insurer interactions (!)
- Injured workers and healthcare provider interactions
- Healthcare provider and insurer interactions
- insurer lack of knowledge about the system and injuries
- discourteous behaviour
- absent or incorrect information,
- late/incorrect payments,
- cost containment approach to service approval
- lack of individualised service
- claims managers hard to contact,
- limited and impersonal contact,
- unclear written communication
My case manager didn’t tell me anything or help me with the process…… I knew nothing about travel claims, rehabilitation, work training or physiotherapy …… they just send out the same letters to everyone …… letters sent by case managers were threatening – the pressure was unnecessary and I would have healed quicker without it – the boundaries of the return to work process need to be explained– the lack of information is very stressful. (Roberts Yates 2003 p902)
- Legitimacy issues were inextricably linked with adversarial relations
- Unhelpful interactions were characterised by
•stereotyping and suspicious attitudes,
•not being believed and not being listened to,
•denial of claims,
•surveillance and monitoring,
•multiple medical assessments
You can’t believe what it’s like to be under surveillance if it’s never happened to you. It destroys a person like you can’t imagine!
Because……it’s a lack of respect! It……gets inside of us…..it’s as if…the person under surveillance is a liar, is a cheat. The lowest of the low in our society, that’s what you are if you’re under surveillance…That pushed me almost to suicide, all of that stuff ”… (Lippel 2007 p434)
- Injured workers feel pressured to comply because of dependence on the system
- Painful medical assessments or unhelpful treatments,
- early return to work,
- lack of approval for surgery or treatments
- File rotation between claims managers
- Delayed payments
Mental health consequences
- fear and insecurity
- anger, frustration, stress
- anxiety, depression and shame
- low self esteem
- suicidal ideation
Social and vocational consequences
- financial stress and poverty
- social withdrawal and isolation
- poor employment history
“Hurting yourself at work has a stigma and I felt I was to blame….No-one told me anything……There was no plan.. from
the insurer and the case manager was inexperienced, ignorant and arrogant. I was totally stressed and my mental state was far worse than the injury at the end of the claim…… My pay was mixed up for weeks and receipts were lost.
It all made me feel fearful and the fact that nobody listened to me had the biggest impact……. I was very worried about how I would feed the family……..and I felt very depressed but received no help or counselling…… I had problems with the mortgage and I began to mistrust everyone connected to my case.
The process almost drowned me.” (Robert-Yates 2003, p899)
It will be very interesting to see what will be done with this expensive “research”…
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