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Supporting employed patients with musculoskeletal conditions: a UK survey of occupational therapists

Coole, C; Drummond, A; Watson, P; Hammond, A; Birks, E; Worthington, E


C Coole

A Drummond

P Watson

E Birks

E Worthington


Background: Musculoskeletal conditions are a common cause of sickness absence and work disability. Occupational therapists regularly treat patients with these conditions but little is known about the work-related advice and support they provide to patients and their employers.
Method: A postal questionnaire survey was conducted of UK occupational therapists who treat employed patients with musculoskeletal conditions in community/outpatient settings. Questions included the provision of work-related advice and support, the interventions used and communication with employers. Questionnaires were posted to 960 hospitals/units identified through NHS websites to reach as many respondents as possible; the survey was available on-line.
Results/findings: Two hundred and seventy-nine questionnaires were analysed and 257 respondents reported on their provision of work-related advice and support. Over 30% reported that this involved a moderate amount of their time. One hundred and fifty-four respondents had contacted employers. Just over one-third had met with patients’ employers in the previous 12 months. Fifty per cent reported that they had sufficient time and resources to communicate with employers, 47% were concerned about the legal implications and almost 30% reported that they felt they did not have the appropriate skills. Just over half reported that employers did not readily communicate with them.
Discussion and conclusion: The findings demonstrated considerable variations in service delivery, interventions and the contact therapists had with employers. Several factors impacted on therapists’ communication with patients’ employers. These need urgent attention if the profession is to meet the challenges of the government’s agenda for health and well-being at work and the work needs of patients with musculoskeletal conditions.


Coole, C., Drummond, A., Watson, P., Hammond, A., Birks, E., & Worthington, E. (2014). Supporting employed patients with musculoskeletal conditions: a UK survey of occupational therapists. Clinical Rehabilitation, 28(4), 407

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2014
Deposit Date Jan 29, 2015
Journal Clinical Rehabilitation
Print ISSN 0269-2155
Electronic ISSN 1477-0873
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Issue 4
Pages 407
Publisher URL