According to recent research, the best predictor for successful return-to-work after carpal tunnel release surgery may be self efficacy (confidence in ability to perform tasks). The authors (Amick et al) postulate that this quality is developed through supportive employee policies and practices, the medical care process, and the worker’s overall health and personal characteristics.
In a study involving 122 carpal tunnel cases, researchers evaluated the significance of over 30 demographic, clinical, individual psychosocial, economic/legal, job physical/psychosocial, and company variables in relationship to return to work.
Two months after surgery, the success of return-to-work for the subject was most readily predicted by not being depressed, not being obese, having good physical health, not being a workers’ compensation claimant, having a less physically demanding job, high job control and supportive workplace policies and practices. Six months after surgery, self efficacy and supportive workplace policies and practices best predicted a successful return to work.
The authors state that company policies such as a people-orientated culture, active safety leadership, safety diligence, disability management, and ergonomics are highly valuable in the management of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and should be adopted by more employers.
Amick BC, Habeck RV, Ossmann J, Fossel AH, Keller R, and Katz JN. “Predictors of Successful Work Role Functioning After Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery.” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 46:490-500, 2004.
This article originally appeared in The Ergonomics Report™ on 2004-08-12.