Seminar Presentation 6-2

6-2 (Presentation within Topical Seminar 6):
Perceived Justice of Compensation Process Scale

Presented by: Renee-Louise Franche

Seminar Details

Part of Topical Seminar 6: Justice in the Compensation System
Tuesday September 30

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Authors

Franche RL1,2,3, Severin CN4, Lee H4, Hogg-Johnson S4,5 , Hepburn CG6, Vidmar M4, MacEachen E4,5

  1. WorkSafe BC, Vancouver
  2. Simon Fraser University, Vancouver
  3. University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  4. Institute for Work & Health, Toronto
  5. University of Toronto, Toronto
  6. University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Canada

Abstract

Background

There has been a growing interest in understanding the experience of perceived justice, or lack thereof, of injured workers in Workers’ Compensation Systems, and to understand the impact of perceived justice on worker health and return-to-work outcomes. To conduct solid research on the topic, solid measures are required. The most widely known and used measure of perceived justice in the Workers’ Compensation System is the valid and reliable Injustice Experience Questionnaire (IEQ) developed by Sullivan and colleagues (Sullivan et al. 2008), which focuses on the psychological experience of perceived injustice as experienced in various contexts. The purpose of our study was to develop and validate a measure of perceived justice specific to the Workers’ Compensation process. The intended focus of our Perceived Justice of Compensation Process (PJCP) Scale was on the claim process of workers who are off work due to a workplace musculoskeletal (MSK) injury. The development of the PJCP Scale was based on the theoretical framework of organizational justice (Colquitt 2001; Corpanzano & Greenberg, 1997), which involves the four dimensions of Distributive Justice, Procedural Justice, Interpersonal Justice, and Informational Justice.

Methods

The study was conducted within the sampling frame of the Readiness for Return to Work (RTW) prospective cohort (Bültmann et al. 2007; Franche et al. 2007) of lost-time claimants with work-related back or upper extremity MSK disorders, recruited in cooperation with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) of Ontario, Canada. Injured workers (n=446) participated in our study 6 months post-injury (retention rate of 71%). Workers were eligible to participate if they reported an absence from work of at least 5 days in the first 14 days following a workplace injury. Data were obtained from participant structured interviews and the WSIB administrative database. Routinely captured claim information, such as claim status, was extracted from the WSIB database and linked to the interview data when written consent for linkage was provided by the participant. When consent for linkage was not provided, the data was considered to be missing in analyses involving linkage. For analyses which did not involve linkage, such as descriptive statistics, the administrative data was reported for the full sample. Items from previous organizational justice measures (Colquitt 2001; Moorman 1991) and surveys of injured workers were reviewed by a group of researchers with expertise in occupational health. A pool of 19 items specific to each of the four justice dimensions was created: Distributive; Procedural; Interpersonal; and Informational. Items were adapted to the context of a RTW after a workplace injury and the group of researchers hypothesized a priori to which factor each created item would belong to. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were conducted with two separate samples. Validation was explored by examining the psychometric properties of the scale with alpha coefficients and intercorrelations between subscales. Concurrent validity was examined and focused on the relationship between the PJCP Scale and the constructs of claim status, delays in claim processing, worker perception of the work accommodation process. Five hypotheses regarding concurrent validity were posited.

Results

Average time between injury date and baseline interview date was 29.6 days (SD=6.2). Average time between injury date and 6-month interview date was 178 days (SD=11.1). Exploratory factor analyses were first conducted and revealed a four-factor solution. Factor 1 (distributive justice) accounted for 78.5% of the variance. Factor 2 (procedural justice) accounted for 15.4% of the variance. Factor 3 (informational justice) accounted for 6.0% of the variance. Factor 4 (interpersonal justice) accounted for 3.7% of the variance. Total variance explained was, therefore, 96.3%. Three items did not meet criteria for saturation on one factor of 0.40 or higher and were removed from the scale. Importantly all remaining 15 items loaded on their appropriate a priori factor. Confirmatory factor analyses had satisfactory fit indices to confirm the initial model. Subscales were significantly intercorrelated (r=0.46 to r=0.75). Cronbach’s alphas for each subscale were high, ranging from 0.86 to 0. 92. Concurrent validity of the scale was supported by confirmation of the 5 a priori hypotheses: 1) Workers with denied claims reported significantly lower levels of procedural, distributive, and interpersonal justice of the compensation process compared to those with accepted claims, with these effects being more pronounced for procedural and distributive justice subscales. 2) Low distributive, procedural, interpersonal, and informational justice was significantly associated with having a longer delay from injury registration to claim status decision, with effects being stronger for procedural and interpersonal justice. 3) Half of the participants reported feeling they had gone back to work too soon. Feeling that one had returned to work too soon was significantly associated with lower scores on all four justice subscales. 4) Workers who reported that their work accommodation was too short also reported lower levels of perceived justice on all four subscales, with the most significant impact on the distributive and informational justice subscales. 5) Higher distributive and procedural justice was significantly associated with higher levels of satisfaction with the quality of the work accommodation.

Conclusions

Workers’ perception of the justice of the compensation process can now be measured with a psychometrically sound and theoretically based instrument, the PJCP Scale. Our findings support the internal validity and concurrent validity of the 15-item PJCP Scale as applied to lost-time injured workers with work-related MSK disorders. Evidence was found for the presence of four distinct factors. However, evidence for the construct discrimination of the four justice subscales was not as strong when considering concurrent validity results. The independence of justice subscales in other contexts is the focus of significant debate (Colquitt et al. 2001). In our study, the clear factorial structure of our scale, combined with the direct mapping of items to hypothesized a priori items lends support to the presence of four factors. As well, although concurrent validity results point to a similar pattern of relationships between the four subscales and considered outcomes, the hypothesized relationships are stronger than those which were not hypothesized. This suggests that the fours factors are distinct but may behave in very closely related ways. This PJCP Scale offers researchers the opportunity to focus on the perceived justice of the workers’ compensation claim process of injured workers. The IEQ and the PJCP seem to complement each other. While the IEQ’s (Sullivan et a. 2008) strength appears to be its focus on the psychological impact of perceived injustice on the worker, our PJCP Scale is focused on specific aspects of the claim process. Use of the PJCP Scale may increase the understanding of the origins of the perceived justice/injustice of worker’s compensation system, by drawing attention to these specific aspects such as its outcomes (Distributive), procedures and rules (Procedural), interactions with staff (Interpersonal), and type and timing of information given to workers (Informational). By being claim process focused, and by breaking down the process in is four “justice dimensions”, the PJCP Scale provides an applied perspective on the justice of the workers’ compensation system, and it can facilitate potential changes to be considered by policy-makers, compensation management, and other return-to-work stakeholders.