Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science

Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science


Occupational Medicine


Dr. Nancy Reid


BACKGROUND: Lost-time or days away from work because of a work-related injury can have negative effects for both the employee and the employer. Although transitional work assignments are commonly referenced in the workers’ compensation arena, it is unclear if there is a compelling evidence base to encourage employers to establish transitional work assignments to prevent lost-time injury claims.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the evidence base on the use of transitional work assignments and their effect on lost-time days for workers’ compensation claims.

METHOD: A clinical literature review was conducted looking for high-level studies assessing the effects transitional work assignments have on lost-time days for workers’ compensation claims.

RESULTS: Three Level 2 studies (cohort and case-control) were found demonstrating that transitional work assignments and/or return-to-work programs decreased lost-time claims.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite the overwhelming inference of the benefits of transitional work in the workers’ compensation arena, there are very few studies examining the purported benefits. Support for the use of these programs to prevent lost-time claims for employers was found in three studies leading to a strong recommendation for their use. This provides evidence to encourage employers and providers to work together in supporting stay-at-work and return-to-work practices.


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