Plain-language summaries

Institute for Work & Health (IWH) plain-language summaries condense research findings in various formats. At Work articles explain study results with comments from the study leads. Research Highlights summarize journal articles in easy-to-read, digest formats. Sharing Best Evidence summaries highlight findings from systematic reviews and other types of reviews conducted or led by IWH researchers. Issue Briefings discuss key research findings from IWH or elsewhere on topics that are of particular interest to policy-makers.

An older female worker ponders decision while sitting in waiting room
At Work article

Older workers not prone to ask for employer support, citing ageism and other issues

A study by IWH finds concerns about privacy, reputation, job loss among reasons older workers are not inclined to share they need support to keep working
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An overhead shot of a teacher, sitting in front of two laptops in a cramped corner of her home office
At Work article

Study of educators during pandemic found psychosocial conditions worse for those teaching online

OHCOW-IWH study also found two-thirds of surveyed teachers reported having less than half of needed COVID protections
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A man sitting on a couch holds his shoulder in pain
At Work article

IWH study finds 7 in 10 injured workers still experience pain more than a year after injury

Link between pain severity and time off work also found in study of Ontario injured workers, conducted 18 months post-injury
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A young worker at her computer workstation holds her shoulder and neck in pain
Research Highlights

Examining the link between job insecurity, work limitations and persistent symptoms among young adults with rheumatic disease

Young adults with rheumatic disease who reported high work activity limitations were also more likely to report persistent high levels of pain, fatigue and active rheumatic disease symptoms. Those who experienced job insecurity were more likely to report persistent pain and active disease symptoms. That's according to an IWH follow-up study conducted over 27 months.
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A woman takes notes at a desk while attending a videoconference on the computer monitor
Research Highlights

Comparing real-time online work-related training with face-to-face formats

Work-related training delivered through synchronous or real-time online formats can be just as effective as face-to-face training in building workers’ knowledge or skills. This finding is based on a relatively sparse body of research looking at training aimed at adult learners at the undergraduate level or higher.
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Wooden block letters spelling out R O I, with colourful arrows pointing to them
At Work article

IWH estimates point to positive return on OHS investment in three Ontario sectors

The Institute’s method to estimate the ROI of occupational health and safety spending includes intangible benefits
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Black silhouettes of two women in dialogue, with colourful speech bubbles above them
Research Highlights

Getting the message right: strategies to improve return-to-work communication

Communication is central to disability management—especially in large and complex organizations where multiple parties are involved in the return-to-work process and inconsistent practices can add to communication challenges. Workplace stakeholders in large and complex organizations use key strategies to effectively communicate about RTW. They include communicating messages of support, correctly timing RTW communication, carefully wording messages, framing messages and tailoring messages for individual workers.
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A masked personal support worker looks grimly at the camera
Research Highlights

Working conditions for Greater Toronto Area personal support workers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal support workers (PSWs) faced a range of challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including concerns of contracting or transmitting the virus, reduced work hours and income, loss of childcare services and lack of paid sick leave. While the pandemic highlighted the importance of the PSW workforce to the Canadian health-care system, pre-existing poor working conditions—in particular, insecure jobs with few benefits—exacerbated COVID-19-related work experiences.
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Blurred figures of workers walking
At Work article

Workers doing vigorous, tiring activity all day no healthier than those who are least active

A study by IWH finds six patterns of daily movement among Canadians, all but one associated with lower heart risks when compared to the most sedentary
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Closeup of hands around documents and a laptop in a business meeting
At Work article

What research can do: IWH input contributes to enhancement of WSIB’s Health and Safety Index

When the WSIB reviewed its Health and Safety Index, IWH researchers provided advice on index methodology. An impact case study summarizes how enhancements to the index in October 2021 incorporated that advice
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13 colourful cardboards, each with a question mark cut-out in the middle, overlap each other in a pile
At Work article

Widely used survey lacks ability to tell apart 13 distinct psychosocial work factors

IWH and OHCOW study on the measurement properties of Guarding Minds @ Work finds it unable to isolate different psychosocial work dimensions
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A man and a woman work together to push a trolley through a warehouse
At Work article

Review synthesizes differences between men, women in injury risks and outcomes

IWH systematic review finds differences in the same occupations, likely due to differences in job tasks
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Wooden block letters spelling out R O I, with colourful arrows pointing to them
Issue Briefing

Estimating the financial return on employers’ investments in the prevention of work injuries in Ontario

Following a 2017 study to estimate occupational health and safety (OHS) expenditures by employers with 20 or more employees in Ontario, Canada, an Institute for Work & Health (IWH) team has set out to estimate the financial return on those OHS expenditures. This Issue Briefing shares findings from that follow-up study.
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Row of diverse persons with disabilities
At Work article

How government funding can best support the employment of persons with disabilities

IWH project highlights key features of financial incentives that are most helpful in supporting sustained employment of persons with disabilities
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A jar of cannabis buds on a brown desk
At Work article

Cannabis use linked to higher injury risk, but only among those who use at or before work

IWH study finds injury risk doubles among workers who use cannabis before or at work, but no increase among those who use outside of work
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A young woman looks at her phone in frustration and exasperation
At Work article

Poor interactions with case managers linked with risk of mental illness later on

New Ontario study finds claimants who report poor treatment by case managers face higher risk of serious psychological distress 18 months post-injury
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A blurry image of a hospital waiting room
At Work article

Over a third of work-related ER visits in Ontario don’t show up as WSIB claims

Study by Institute for Work & Health uses linkage between WSIB claims data and Ontario’s emergency department records to examine patterns of under-reporting
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A long-term care worker pushes a resident in a wheelchair down the hall
Research Highlights

Implementing participatory ergonomics in the long-term care sector

It can be challenging to tackle long-standing musculoskeletal hazards in busy, high turnover settings such as long-term care homes. Despite this, an IWH study finds a participatory approach—one that involves frontline workers—can be successfully implemented and sustained.
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An overhead shot of a woman holding her head in front of a laptop
At Work article

IWH study finds psychosocial work stressors lead to burnout, but not vice versa

Joint study with OHCOW tests idea that having burnout can worsen work stress, but finds only supervisor support affected

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A woman smiles sympathetically at a colleague in an office
Research Highlights

Workers’ and managers’ perspectives on workplace supports for depression

In a survey of workers with depression and those who manage them, nearly one out of four said no supports were available. Asked about the most helpful type of support, survey respondents with lived experience of depression most often indicated employee assistance programs (EAPs) and other supports external to the workplace. As for barriers to implementing practices, participants noted unsupportive managers, lack of knowledge about mental health in the workplace, and lack of training for managers.
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