Racial and ethnic inequities in the return-to-work of workers experiencing injury or illness: a systematic review

Publication type
Journal article
Jetha A, Navaratnerajah L, Shahidi FV, Carnide N, Biswas A, Yanar B, Siddiqi A
Date published
2023 Jun 01
Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Open Access?

PURPOSE: Non-White workers face more frequent, severe, and disabling occupational and non-occupational injuries and illnesses when compared to White workers. It is unclear whether the return-to-work (RTW) process following injury or illness differs according to race or ethnicity. OBJECTIVE: To determine racial and ethnic differences in the RTW process of workers with an occupational or non-occupational injury or illness. METHODS: A systematic review was conducted. Eight academic databases - Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Sociological Abstracts, ASSIA, ABI Inform, and Econ lit - were searched. Titles/abstracts and full texts of articles were reviewed for eligibility; relevant articles were appraised for methodological quality. A best evidence synthesis was applied to determine key findings and generate recommendations based on an assessment of the quality, quantity, and consistency of evidence. RESULTS: 15,289 articles were identified from which 19 studies met eligibility criteria and were appraised as medium-to-high methodological quality. Fifteen studies focused on workers with a non-occupational injury or illness and only four focused on workers with an occupational injury or illness. There was strong evidence indicating that non-White and racial/ethnic minority workers were less likely to RTW following a non-occupational injury or illness when compared to White or racial/ethnic majority workers. CONCLUSIONS: Policy and programmatic attention should be directed towards addressing racism and discrimination faced by non-White and racial/ethnic minority workers in the RTW process. Our research also underscores the importance of enhancing the measurement and examination of race and ethnicity in the field of work disability management