WSIB turns to IWH for its expertise in logic models

About impact case studies

This impact case study is part of a series that illustrates the diffusion, uptake and outcomes of Institute for Work & Health research, based upon our research impact model. The model differentiates three types of impact:
Type 1: Evidence of diffusion of research
Type 2: Evidence of research informing decision-making at the policy or organizational level
Type 3: Evidence of societal impact

This is a Type 2 case study

Published: September 2010

Not all of the Institute for Work & Health (IWH)’s work is tied to specific research projects. As active partners within Ontario’s prevention system, Institute researchers frequently lend their expertise to support quality improvement in operational policy. Program logic models developed for the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) are a case in point.

In 2009, at the suggestion of IWH Scientific Director Dr. Ben Amick, the Institute helped develop logic models for the WSIB as it considered reforms to three important programs: experience rating, case management services and vocational rehabilitation services. Program logic models show the rationale underlying a program’s design, connecting the dots between activities and outcomes. As such, they play an important role in program evaluation.

Logic models help with planning and performance measurement, explains IWH Associate Scientist Dr. Lynda Robson, who worked on the three logic models with input from WSIB managers and other IWH scientists. They ensure ‘what’ to measure makes sense.

1. Experience rating

The first of the logic models was developed for the WSIB in the spring of 2009. At that time, the WSIB was reviewing its experience rating program and other incentive programs designed to improve employer health and safety practices. Experience rating results in rebates or surcharges to employers based upon their claims experience.

WSIB’s Paul Casey, director of prevention, standards and incentives, says having IWH at the table allowed the WSIB to get a broad-based perspective on outcomes and how to achieve them. IWH facilitated a structured conversation that allowed us to identify short- and long-term outcomes, he says. It was like a visioning exercise.

Within a month, an Incentives Program Logic Model was drafted by Robson and approved by the incentives team. It certainly proved helpful, Casey says. Looking at what to measure and how to get there, that was meaningful to us.

2. Case management services

Soon after, the team implementing the WSIB’s New Service Delivery Model (NSDM), which launched in late 2008 with an emphasis on improving return-to-work outcomes (see related impact case study), also looked for input on its logic model. By the time IWH got involved in late June 2009, much of the strategic mapping for the evaluative framework of the program was completed. So the WSIB was looking for a review and assessment of what was already done.

This second look proved beneficial. Many of Robson’s “great suggestions,” as Lou Nanos, manager of the program evaluation team in the WSIB’s Operations, Planning and Implementation Division describes them, were incorporated into the NSDM Logic Model. The IWH feedback enhanced the model, as well as my personal understanding of the entire tool, he says.

3. Vocational rehabilitation services

In September 2009, the WSIB’s Work Reintegration Strategic Working Group, which was tasked with reforming the Board’s vocational rehabilitation program, also turned to IWH to help with the development of a program logic model.

What I really liked is that we started with outcomes, says Linda Kelly, who heads up the WSIB work reintegration group. We really brainstormed about what we wanted the project to do in the short term (one year), medium term (three years) and long term (five years), and the strategies to reach these outcomes. The strategies were then used to define new roles and the activities associated with those roles, all tied to outcomes.

According to Kelly, the logic model is a living and breathing document, and the foundation of the program’s evaluation framework. It meant a WSIB program was based on outcome measures from the get-go, Kelly says (see related impact case study).