Research Highlights

Research Highlights is an easy-to-read, lay-audience summary of a study led by a scientist from the Institute for Work & Health (or includes an Institute scientist on its research team) that has been published in a respected, peer-reviewed journal. Each research summary explains why the study was done, how it was done, what the researchers found and the implications of the study, where applicable. 
A man speaks with a female doctor in scrubs who holds a clipboard

Workers are using cannabis to treat work-related conditions, mostly without medical guidance

While cannabis is often used recreationally, there is growing interest in its use for therapeutic purposes, such as for pain, anxiety, depression and sleep problems. Some workers are using cannabis many months following the onset of a work-related condition, whether to treat their condition or for other reasons, mostly without medical guidance.
A group of physician's sitting in a room, prepared to take notes.

Primary care physicians’ learning needs in returning ill or injured workers to work

While primary care physicians play an important role in helping ill and injured workers return to work (RTW), they have a variety of learning needs about how to best navigate the RTW process. These needs fall in the areas of completing administrative tasks, challenging personal beliefs, understanding specific RTW issues and learning about available RTW services and tools.
Overhead image of fast-moving pedestrians using a crosswalk to cross a road.

Associations between physical activity patterns and cardiometabolic health in Canadian working adults

According to an IWH study, Canadian workers typically fall into six patterns of daily movement. These six patterns are associated with varying levels of cardiometabolic disease risk. In general, workers with higher daily activity levels had lower levels of cardiometabolic disease risk factors, but those with moderate activity also showed lower risk factors.
A young worker at her computer workstation holds her shoulder and neck in pain

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.
A woman takes notes at a desk while attending a videoconference on the computer monitor

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.
Black silhouettes of two women in dialogue, with colourful speech bubbles above them

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.
A masked personal support worker looks grimly at the camera

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.
A long-term care worker pushes a resident in a wheelchair down the hall

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.
A woman smiles sympathetically at a colleague in an office

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.
People with various disabilities at the office

The economic benefits of a fully accessible and inclusive Canada

If Canada were a fully accessible and inclusive society, the economic benefits would amount to about $337.7 billion in calendar year 2017. This amount is equal to about 17.6 per cent of the gross domestic product in that year.
The back of a male worker, hauling a load in a warehouse setting

Examining the link between leisure-time exercise and physically demanding work on diabetes risk

Workers in sedentary jobs who meet physical activity guidelines of at least 150 minutes a week have a 37 per cent lower chance of developing diabetes over 15 years, compared to people in the same types of jobs but who do less exercise. Meeting physical activity guidelines is less beneficial for people whose jobs involve movement or high physical demands (such as lifting heavy loads).
A woman works at a laundry service

Is precarious work more prevalent for people with disabilities? The role of age and job tenure

Workers with disabilities are no more likely than those without to work in precarious jobs. However, some subsets of people with disabilities are more likely to work in precarious jobs—older people or people with shorter job tenure. Contrary to expectation, younger people with disabilities are not more likely than older people with disabilities to have precarious jobs. Among people with and without disabilities, having better health is linked to a lower likelihood of working in precarious jobs.
Monochrome splatter painting of a woman in distress

Depression and work among adults with arthritis

About 13 per cent of working-age people in the U.S. who have arthritis also experience depressive symptoms. Having both arthritis and depressive symptoms lowers the likelihood of working. For people aged 35 to 54, having depressive symptoms in addition to arthritis lowers the likelihood of working by 17 per cent.
A lone roofing worker sits perched on top of a new being built

Evaluating the effectiveness of mandatory working-at-heights training standards

The introduction of a mandatory training standard for construction workers using fall protection equipment is associated with a 19.6 per cent reduction in the incidence rate of lost-time claims due to falls targeted by the intervention. This decline is larger than an overall decline in injuries in the sector during the same time frame. Reductions in incidence rates are also largest among the smallest employers.
A blurry image of people at work

Employer perspectives on communication challenges when supporting episodic disabilities

Supporting people with episodic health conditions can be challenging from organizational perspectives. The challenges stem from the need to provide accommodation and support while respecting workers’ right to privacy, and to respond to unpredictable periods of disability while ensuring work units meet productivity demands.
A vista of a small town in British Columbia

Urban-rural differences in work disability duration

People who live in more remote areas have more disability days following a work-related injury than people who live in large cities. However, there are exceptions to that pattern. Disability days are highest in the most remote rural areas. But they're second highest in the least remote rural areas, where at least 30 per cent of workers commute to an urban centre.
Close-up of a faceless jogger, lacing up her running shoes

Physical activity levels and work factors over 12 years

Over a 12-year-period, Canadians whose jobs became more physically or mentally demanding became slightly less likely to exercise more. They were also slightly less likely to exercise more when working long hours or working in jobs that offered them little say in how to use their skills.
Close-up of two pairs of hands, belong to a counsellor and a patient sitting on a couch

Access to mental health treatment among workers with physical injuries

Among workers with a compensation claim for a work-related musculoskeletal injury, 30 per cent also experience a serious mental condition. However, a minority of these workers receive treatment for their mental health conditions, according to an IWH study conducted in Australia.
A young man behind the wheel of a car checks his smartphone

Exploring the health and safety risks facing ride-share drivers

Ride-share drivers face physical and mental health risks that are not only similar to, but also distinct from, those of taxi drivers. Beyond the risks experienced by taxi drivers, ride-share drivers face stressors unique to this form of work.
A tangled telephone cord

Examining communication and collaboration barriers among health and case management professionals

Communication barriers between health-care providers and case managers appear to stem from differences in communication styles, professional priorities and philosophical perspectives about the timing and appropriateness of return to work. Barriers exist even among practitioners of different health disciplines.