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Perspective

Managing chronic pain in the workplace

MICHAEL K. NICHOLAS

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© PEOPLEIMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO.COM MODEL USED FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY

Abstract

Despite the general agreement that work is good for mental and physical wellbeing, and that return to work as soon as possible after a work injury is important for a worker’s long-term health and financial security, the means of achieving this outcome is not simply a matter of finding better treatments or better skilled healthcare providers.

Key Points

  • It is generally agreed that work is good for health and wellbeing, and that long-term work absence, work disability and unemployment generally have a negative impact on an individual’s health and wellbeing.
  • There is growing evidence that for a worker to sustain their return to work after injury, despite any persisting pain, a system-wide approach is required rather than just a clinical one.
  • Helping an injured worker achieve a sustained return to work should encompass a biopsychosocial perspective to achieve the best outcomes possible.
  • Interventions need to address the health issues (treatment), workplace modifications and service co-ordination between, for example, the injured worker, treatment providers, the insurer and the workplace.

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© PEOPLEIMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO.COM MODEL USED FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY