Supporting return to work through appropriate certification: a systematic approach for Australian primary careHarry Papagoras A D , Tania Pizzari A B , Paul Coburn A , Kevin Sleigh A and Andrew M. Briggs A C
B La Trobe Sport and Exercise Medicine Centre, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Vic. 3086, Australia. Email: T.Pizzari@latrobe.edu.au
C School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia. Email: A.Briggs@curtin.edu.au
D Corresponding author. Email: email@example.com
Australian Health Review - https://doi.org/10.1071/AH16247
Submitted: 28 October 2016 Accepted: 12 January 2017 Published online: 7 March 2017
Primary care practitioners play a critical role in supporting return to work (RTW) and minimising the detrimental physical and psychosocial sequelae of unnecessary and prolonged work absence in injured and ill workers. Accurate and consistent certification of capacity is an essential component of this role that has been scrutinised recently given the identified variation in certification practices between and within professions. This Perspective outlines the importance of correct certification of capacity for injured workers and provides a RTW flowchart to support systematised and appropriate certification. The flowchart is aimed at primary care practitioners (e.g. general practitioners or physiotherapists). The flowchart was developed at the Transport Accident Commission and WorkSafe Victoria as a guide for Australian primary care practitioners when certifying capacity. A more systematised approach to certification coupled with professional education and support may reduce variations and inaccuracies in certification, improve RTW rates and reduce the increasing burden of disease related to workplace injuries.
Additional keywords: capacity, injury.
References Safe Work Australia. Key work health and safety statistics, Australia. Canberra: Safe Work Australia; 2013.
 Collie A, Ruseckaite R, Brijnath B, Kosny AA, Mazza D. Sickness certification of workers compensation claimants by general practitioners in Victoria, 2003–2010. Med J Aust 2013; 199 480–3.
| Sickness certification of workers compensation claimants by general practitioners in Victoria, 2003–2010.CrossRef |
 Zheltoukhova K, Bevan S, Reich A. Fit for work? Musculoskeletal disorders and the Australian labour market. London: The Work Foundation; 2012.
 Punnett L, Wegman DH. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders: the epidemiologic evidence and the debate. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2004; 14 13–23.
| Work-related musculoskeletal disorders: the epidemiologic evidence and the debate.CrossRef |
 Driscoll T, Jacklyn G, Orchard J, Passmore E, Vos T, Freedman G, Lim S, Punnett L. The global burden of occupationally related low back pain: estimates from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study. Ann Rheum Dis 2014; 73 975–81.
| The global burden of occupationally related low back pain: estimates from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study.CrossRef | 1:STN:280:DC%2BC2crmvFertg%3D%3D&md5=46b1300f209db8e35e4ec5497cb24120CAS |
 Murgatroyd DF, Casey PP, Cameron ID, Harris IA. The effect of financial compensation on health outcomes following musculoskeletal injury: systematic review. PLoS One 2015; 10 e0117597
| The effect of financial compensation on health outcomes following musculoskeletal injury: systematic review.CrossRef |
 Beales D, Fried K, Nicholas M, Blyth F, Finniss D, Moseley GL. Management of musculoskeletal pain in a compensable environment: implementation of helpful and unhelpful models of care in supporting recovery and return to work. Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol 2016; 30 445–67.
| Management of musculoskeletal pain in a compensable environment: implementation of helpful and unhelpful models of care in supporting recovery and return to work.CrossRef |
 Daly A. Worklessness: can physiotherapists do more? J Physiother 2016; 62 179–80.
| Worklessness: can physiotherapists do more?CrossRef |
 Johnston V, Beales D. Enhancing direct access and authority for work capacity certificates to physiotherapists. Man Ther 2016; 25 100–3.
| Enhancing direct access and authority for work capacity certificates to physiotherapists.CrossRef |
 Waddell G, Burton K. Is work good for your health and well-being? London: The Stationery Office; 2006.
 Rueda S, Chambers L, Wilson M, Mustard C, Rourke SB, Bayoumi A, Raboud J, Lavis J. Association of returning to work with better health in working-aged adults: a systematic review. Am J Public Health 2012; 102 541–56.
| Association of returning to work with better health in working-aged adults: a systematic review.CrossRef |
 Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Realising the health benefits of work – an evidence update. Melbourne: Royal Australasian College of Physicians; 2015.
 Foreman P, Murphy G, Swerissen H. Barriers and facilitators to return to work: a literature review. Melbourne: Australian Institute for Primary Care, La Trobe University; 2006.
 Gosling C, Keating J, Iles R, Morgan P, Hopmans R. Strategies to enable physiotherapists to promote timely return to work following injury. Melbourne: Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Reasearch (ISCRR) and Monash University; 2015.
 Stay-at-Work and Return-to-Work Process Improvement Committee Preventing needless work disability by helping people stay employed. J Occup Environ Med 2006; 48 972–87.
| Preventing needless work disability by helping people stay employed.CrossRef |
 Dunstan DA. Are sickness certificates doing our patients harm. Aust Fam Physician 2009; 38 61–3.
 Cancelliere C, Donovan J, Stochkendahl MJ, Biscardi M, Ammendolia C, Myburgh C, Cassidy JD. Factors affecting return to work after injury or illness: best evidence synthesis of systematic reviews. Chiropr Man Therap 2016; 24 32
| Factors affecting return to work after injury or illness: best evidence synthesis of systematic reviews.CrossRef |
 Ruseckaite R, Collie A, Scheepers M, Brijnath B, Kosny A, Mazza D. Factors associated with sickness certification of injured workers by general practitioners in Victoria, Australia. BMC Public Health 2016; 16 298
| Factors associated with sickness certification of injured workers by general practitioners in Victoria, Australia.CrossRef |
 Mazza D, Brijnath B, Singh N, Kosny A, Ruseckaite R, Collie A. General practitioners and sickness certification for injury in Australia. BMC Fam Pract 2015; 16 100
| General practitioners and sickness certification for injury in Australia.CrossRef |