Presentation M O10

M O10 (Oral Presentation):
The association between pain and work disability beliefs and job accommodation: a cross-sectional study of supervisors’ perspectives

Presented by: Vicki Leigh Kristman


Senthanar S1, 2, Kristman V1, 2, 3, 4, Shaw, WS5, 6, Reguly P1

  1. Department of Health Sciences, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
  2. Institute for Work & Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  3. Division of Epidemiology, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  4. Division of Human Sciences, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
  5. Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, Hopkinton, Massachusetts, USA
  6. University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA



Temporary job modification is an important strategy for improving return to work of workers with a musculoskeletal injury, but we have little understanding of what factors are associated with provision of accommodated work. Pain beliefs and attitudes have been shown to be an important predictor of recovery for persons with musculoskeletal disorders, but it is unknown how these influence supervisors' decision-making process.


We surveyed supervisors from 19 companies in Canada and the United States using an online survey regarding job modification practices and attitudes toward pain and impairment and whether function should be restricted in the presence of pain. Multivariable linear regression, accounting for the correlated nature of the data, was conducted.


A total of 804 supervisors participated, but 8 were excluded as they did not supervise workers; leaving 796 for inclusion in the analysis. The crude estimate of the association was 0.0027 (95% CI: -0.0009, 0.0063), indicating that supervisors’ pain and work disability beliefs were not significantly associated with the decision to support and facilitate workplace accommodation for injured workers with LBP. After controlling for confounding variables, including industry sector, heavy physical work score, autonomy, occupational policies & procedures, workplace social capital score, and a considerate leadership style, we still did not find an important association (β = 0.0028; 95% CI: -0.0005, 0.0062).


This study demonstrates that supervisory attitude toward pain and work disability does not directly influence the decision to provide temporary job modifications. Therefore, including an attempt to change supervisors’ pain and work disability beliefs in workplace interventions will likely not enhance workplace accommodations. This information can help guide employer practices and policies.

Schedule Details

Monday September 29
10:45 - 12:15 Morning Concurrent Sessions (M O1 - M O12 and Seminar 1)
Session: Supervisors’ involvement in Work Disability
Room A