Workers’ Compensation Boards help to assess and treat any injury that an employee has while working at his or her job. Often these are physical injuries, but we know workers can also suffer from mental health conditions from experiencing or witnessing an upsetting event, like a cashier being robbed or a factory worker seeing a serious accident happen to a coworker. We call this a “traumatic psychological injury”, and workers can develop mental or psychological conditions after these injuries. Workers’ Compensation Boards want to help workers with these conditions so that they can continue working. However, we know a lot more about the best way to treat physical injuries from work than we do about treatments for work-related traumatic psychological injuries. This research project will involve talking to people who work with employees who have work-related mental health issues across the country, as well as seeing what other researchers have found about different treatment options. We want to find out which treatments work best to help workers recover and return to work successfully, and what factors may make a difference to how well workers respond to treatment.
The objectives of this work include describing how often and in what way these diagnoses are included in TPI treatment programs, the treatments currently in use, the overarching care models within which they exist, the perceived and objective (evidence-informed) effectiveness of these treatments, identifying gaps in the existing knowledge body, and finally anticipating and describing future needs within the Canadian context. We have a current project underway, “Effectiveness of treatments for traumatic psychological injury in a workers’ compensation context.” In this new project, we will be looking at more mental health issues as well as at workers that have more than one mental health issue at the same time. We also want to help clinicians evaluate people with these problems, so we will be writing a guide about some of the common diagnoses that doctors see and how to tell whether or not they are related to someone’s work.
Our research project plans to support the optimal management of TPI by identifying, collating, and synthesizing evidence across scholarly literature, grey literature, and stakeholder experiences and insights. We will also create formal evidence-supported guidance documents for physicians.
Dr. Sebastian Straube, University of Alberta