Presentation M O13

M O13 (Oral Presentation):
The association between appropriate framing of information and workers’ RTW intention

Presented by: Hon Sun Lai


Lai, HS1

  1. Hong Kong Polytechnic University



Return to work (RTW) is a complicated process affected by many physical, psychosocial, legislative and labour relations factors. Delay in RTW has become a social problem in many countries affecting employers, insurers, as well as the injured workers and their family members. The RTW decision making process can be influenced by the way in which doctors, or case managers present the information to the injured worker. The present study examined the effects of applying the prospect theory on the decision-making process of individual workers with regard to RTW.


141 injured workers were invited to participate in a study in which wage- and pain-related information was presented in either a negatively or a positively framed format. All these workers had non-traumatic musculoskeletal injuries at work. Intention to RTW was measured in terms of perceived chance of RTW, confidence of return to work, and anticipated sick leave duration. It was initially hypothesized that workers would be more inclined to attend to information that was negatively framed. The loss in wages and potential gain in pain would also exert differential effects on the intention of workers to return to work. They were randomly assigned to one of four groups: pain gain (PG), wage loss (WL), ambivalence (AB), and control (CT). Baseline assessment was done within 1 month post-injury with follow-up phone interview at 2 and 6 months for those still on sick leave.


At baseline, no significant difference was found in the RTW outcomes among the four groups. 94 participants (66.6%) managed to resume work duties after 2 months. The differences could be more readily seen when participants expressed a higher perceived improvement (60% or higher) or had shorter sick leave durations (60 days or less). Those who perceived themselves as making a better recovery from the injury but who received negatively framed information on an increase in pain perceived their chance of return to work as significantly lower than those in the other two groups that received positively framed information on pain (p<0.01).


The study showed that the appropriate framing of pain- and wage-related information, had important influence on the decision-making of injured workers about RTW.

Schedule Details

Monday September 29
13:45 - 15:15 Afternoon Concurrent Sessions (M O13 - M O24 and Seminar 2)
Session: Healthcare providers’ interventions I
Room B