Understanding and building upon effort to return to work for people with long-term disability and job loss
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BACKGROUND: Effort is a concept that underlies programs assisting people with work disability to re-enter the labour force. During re-entry, attention is paid to the effort invested by the worker with an injury. However, for those with chronic work disability, the motivation to return to work (RTW) may be questioned by benefit service providers and healthcare professionals. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this paper is to describe the efforts made by people with long term work-disability to regain a foothold on the labour market. METHODS: This phenomenological study explored the meaning of work for people with long-term work disability and job loss. Twenty-seven interviews were conducted with nine participants. A thematic analysis was completed of the collected data. RESULTS: A key finding of this study is the variety and degree of effort exerted by participants to regain employment, despite time away from the workplace and system barriers. Effort was exerted to retain pre-accident employment; to obtain new work following job loss; and, to remain in a new job. CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that if the RTW effort of people with long-term work disability is not fully acknowledged or supported, this population will remain unemployed where their strengths as competent, experienced workers will continue to be wasted.
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