Framing the Care of Injured Workers: An Empirical Four-Jurisdictional Comparison of Workers’ Compensation Boards’ Healthcare Policies
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PURPOSE: The objective of this study was to explore how workers' compensation policies related to healthcare provision for workers with musculoskeletal injuries can affect the delivery and trajectories of care for injured workers. The principal research question was: What are the different ways in which workers' compensation (WC) policies inform and transform the practices of healthcare providers (HCPs) caring for injured workers? METHODS: We conducted a cross-jurisdictional policy analysis. We conducted qualitative interviews with 42 key informants from a variety of perspectives in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec in Canada, the state of Victoria in Australia and the state of Washington in the United States. The main methodological approach was Framework Analysis. RESULTS: We identified two main themes: (1) Shaping HCPs' clinical practices and behaviors with injured workers. In this theme, we illustrate how clinical practice guidelines and non-economic and economic incentives were used by WCs to drive HCP's behaviours with workers; (2) Controlling workers' trajectories of care. This theme presents how WC policies achieve control of the workers' trajectory of care via different policy mechanisms, namely the standardization of care pathways and the power and autonomy vested in HCPs. CONCLUSIONS: This policy analysis shed light on the different ways in which WC policies shape HCP's day-to-day practices and workers' trajectories. A better understanding and a nuanced portrait of these policies' impacts can help support reflections on future policy changes and inform policy development in other jurisdictions.
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