Introduction: Few studies have examined the role of RTW Coordination from the perspective of RTW Coordinator’s. Furthermore there is little health specific literature on returning injured nurses to work despite the critical workforce shortages of these professionals. The study aimed to examine barriers and facilitators identified by the RTW Coordinator to returning injured nurses to work and influences on specific health sector or geographic location. The study sought to gain insights into the professional backgrounds and everyday work practices of RTW Coordinators. Method: Five focus groups were conducted in metropolitan and rural areas of NSW, Australia. Twenty-five RTW Coordinators from 14 different organisations participated in the study. The focus groups included participants representing different health sectors (aged, disability, public and private hospital and community health). Results: The data analysis identified information pertaining to the qualifications and backgrounds of RTW Coordinators; the role of RTW Coordinators’ within organisational structures; a range of technical knowledge and personal qualities for RTW Coordination and important elements of the case management style used to facilitate RTW. Conclusions: The findings identified a wide range of professional backgrounds that RTW Coordinators bring to the role and the impact of organisational structures on the ability to effectively undertake RTW responsibilities. The study found that interpersonal skills of RTW Coordinators may be more important to facilitate RTW than a healthcare background. A collaborative case management style was also highlighted and the difficulties associated with juggling conflicts of interest, multiple organisational roles and the emotional impact of the work.
Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation Vol. 21, Issue 2, p. 220-227