Injured employees afraid to speak up, new report shows
Fears about losing their jobs and paying the bills are weighing heavily on the minds of many injured Australians – and it’s setting back their recovery and return to work, new research from Konekt has shown.
The Konekt Market Report, compiled in conjunction with research and data-analysis experts Littleton Consulting, analysed more than 156,000 rehabilitation cases from around Australia over the past eight years.
The research shows that for work-injured employees, job security and financial concerns are the second most common risk factor to rehabilitation and return to work behind psychological factors.
“Over the past 10-15 years, people have become more afraid to speak up when they have an injury because of job uncertainty,” says Dr Chris Stevens, Principal Psychologist, CommuniCorp Group.
“These insecurities and chronic stresses have certainly been exacerbated in recent times by things such as mortgage stress.”
Work oriented treatment
According to Dr Stevens, taking a holistic and biopsychosocial approach to rehabilitation is now even more crucial than ever.
“Biopsychosocial injury management takes into account physical, psychological and social factors that can impact an injured employee’s ability to function and participate in work, as well as their motivation to find a new job,” he says.
Dr Stevens adds that what’s needed is ‘work oriented treatment’ which requires all stakeholders including employers, HR managers, insurers and healthcare professionals, to better understand all factors impacting employees.
“Managing psychosocial factors as well as psychological symptoms will be a significant contributor to recovery,” Dr Stevens says.
“It’s vital to manage the recovery process as effectively as possible to relieve injured people of one of their greatest concerns during the recovery phase – their ongoing livelihood.”
Time is of the essence
According to the Konekt Market Report, almost 50 per cent of all biopsychosocial factors are psychological. In addition, the longer the employee waits for treatment, the greater number of biopsychosocial factors impacting on recovery and return to work.
“What’s significant about this report is the data around the biopsychosocial impacts of a delay in return to work. It quantifies what we as an industry have intuitively known for years but haven’t had the data to back it up,” Dr Stevens says.
“Assessing and managing all these psychosocial factors will be a significant contributor to speedy recovery. Getting people back to work as quickly as possible after injury is in the best interests of the injured person, their family, employer, health professionals, and insurers.”
Other findings from the Konekt Market Report 2017
• 82 per cent of initial referrals were for musculoskeletal disorders and injuries such as fractures
• 12 per cent of initial referrals were for a mental health condition
• A higher proportion of younger people less than 50 years of age are reporting a work-related injury
• The highest number of referrals came from the public administration and safety sector
• The highest proportion of fractures occurred in the construction sector
• The longest delay to referral was in manufacturing