Workers' Compensation Health Initiative Researchers Disseminated

Demonstration to improve medical care and disability management by using occupational medical practice guidelines

    • February 20, 2004

From 1996 to 2001, staff at the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine disseminated guidelines on the treatment of low-back, hand and wrist injuries.

In addition, investigators at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center developed a tool to assess physician compliance with the guidelines.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Workers' Compensation Health Initiative national program.

Key Results

  • Project staff from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine:

    • Planned for and implemented the release of the guidelines, Occupational Medicine Practice Guidelines: Evaluation and Management of Common Health Problems and Functional Recovery in Workers.
    • Developed a pocket version of the guidelines to be used in conjunction with the full guidelines.
    • Provided training in the content and use of the guidelines to almost 1,000 health care professionals and insurance claims adjusters and case managers.

Key Findings

  • In a chart review of cases from one site involved in an evaluation of the clinical assessment tool, the investigators the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center found that:

    • The tool can be used to accurately record history, symptom and treatment data on low-back, hand and wrist injuries.
    • Data captured by the tool was in agreement with the conventional medical record 93 percent of the time.
    • Participating physicians were reluctant to complete the forms, which were used in addition to the conventional medical record.