Presentation M P34

M P34 (Poster Presentation):
Uncomfortable bedfellows: Employer perspectives on General Practitioners’ role in the Return to Work Process

Presented by: Agnieszka Kosny


Kosny A1,2, Brijnath 3, Singh N3, Allen A1, Collie A4, Ruseckaite R4, Mazza D3

  1. Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University (Australia)
  2. Institute for Work & Health (Canada)
  3. Department of General Practice, Monash University (Australia)
  4. Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (Australia)



Workers’ compensation authorities expect that various stakeholders – insurers, employers, injured workers and health care providers (HCPs) – work together to help return an injured worker to early, safe and sustainable employment. To date, research examining interactions between employers and HCPs, in the context of return to work (RTW) is limited. Our study addresses this gap by examining the perspectives of a group of employers from Melbourne, Australia who have had experience with RTW and, specifically, their interactions with general practitioners (GPs) during the process.


As part of this study we interviewed employers (n=25) who had an experience with a workers' compensation claim, examining their perspectives on the role that GPs play in the RTW process. Employers were recruited from a database of claims held by the state's workers' compensation authority. To analyse the data, a code list was developed by reviewing a selection of transcripts. Data were jointly coded and entered in Nvivo 10, a qualitative data management program. Kosny analysed the codes (e.g. , ‘communication’ and ‘GP role’) and identified key themes emerging from those interviews. Special attention was paid to practices and understandings related to RTW and the role that both GPs and employers play in the process. Conceptual differences related to coding and analysis were resolved through team discussion and careful review of transcripts.


Our findings indicate that while employers view GPs as an important decision maker in the RTW process, they often have difficulty making contact with GPs and working collaboratively on a RTW plan. They feel that GPs’ lack of engagement in the RTW process is due to the administrative complexity of the workers’ compensation system, limited remuneration and lack of knowledge of the workplace. Employers’ feelings of exclusion, along with a view that some injured workers “cheat the system” make some employers suspicious of the doctor-patient relationship, making collaboration more challenging.


Active inclusion of employers in RTW can signify that they have influence over processes that can profoundly affect their workplaces and provide decision makers with important information about available duties and workplace organization. Streamlined administrative processes, higher remuneration for GPs and the engagement of RTW coordinators can also facilitate the RTW process.

Schedule Details

Monday September 29
12:45 - 13:45 Poster Viewing
Session: Workplace