Workers' Compensation Health Initiative Researchers Disseminated

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

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.