Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCE's) are part of practice in work injury prevention and rehabilitation, and are designed to define an individual's functional abilities or limitations in the context of safe, productive work tasks. Qualitative research methodology was used to investigate the attitudes and behaviours of health professionals in relation to FCE use. The study aimed to identify why health professionals chose a particular FCE, and to identify what factors influence health professionals' clinical judgements when providing results and recommendations for the individual being assessed. Five health professionals from the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia, participated in semi-structured, individual interviews using a phenomenological approach. Following inductive analysis of the data, four themes reflecting participants' attitudes and behaviours of FCE use emerged: i) referrals and expectations, including why and when the assessment is completed ii) outcomes, – what the results aim to provide iii) workplace/practice/usage issues and iv) skills of the assessor. The results indicate the need for further research on the clinical utility of FCE's. A large scale quantitative study would allow results to be generalised to a wider community of FCE users.
Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation Vol. 29, Issue 2, p. 81-87