Research Project Summary

Year Funded: 2013 Budget: Funding Agency: Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Title: A Supervisor Training Program for Work Disability Prevention (IWH Project 1260)
Category: Intervention Research
Subcategory: Intervention Research
Keywords: training, return to work, work disability, interventions
Link to research website:


Workplace-based interventions, including the offer of temporary job modification, have shown benefits by facilitating early return-to-work (RTW) and curtailing long-term disability. In most employment settings, supervisors play a significant role in modifying work, facilitating access to health care resources, monitoring employee function, and communicating a positive message of concern and support. A training program to optimize a supervisor’s supportive response to employees with work-related musculoskeletal injuries was recently developed in the United States. We intend to build on a recently initiated study to understand how supervisors support and facilitate temporary job modifications for injured workers with back pain.


• To assess the effectiveness of a supervisor training program to decrease the duration of lost-time claims in workers.
• To determine if the supervisor training program is associated with a reduction in the cumulative incidence of lost-time injuries and sick leave days.
• To determine if implementation of the supervisor training program is associated with increased supervisor knowledge of workplace injury, increased response to workplace injury, increased communication with employees and health care providers, and improved attitudes towards workplace accommodation.
• To conduct a process evaluation to gain insight into the reach, compliance, appreciation, usage barriers, and users’ perceived effectiveness of the supervisor training program.

Anticipated Results:

The results of this project will be relevant to disability managers, employers, supervisors, compensation boards, health and safety associations, and unions. The findings from this study have the potential to decrease work disability duration and costs by training supervisors to encourage and support accommodations for early and safe return to work.


Vicki Kristman, Ben Amick, Sheilah Hogg-Johnson, C Boot, P Loisel, W Shaw