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Insights into the Sustainable Return to Work of Aging Workers with a Work Disability: An Interpretative Description Study


Durand, Marie-Jose; Coutu, Marie-France; Tremblay, Dominique [u. a.]


k. A.


Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 2021, Volume 31 (Issue 1), Seite 92-106, Dordrecht: Springer Niederlande, ISSN: 1053-0487 (Print); 1573-3688 (Online)





A sustainable return to work (S-RTW) following prolonged work disability poses particular challenges as workers age. This article provides a synthesis of the factors and issues involved in a S-RTW process for aging workers following such a disability.


Using interpretive description methods, a critical review was conducted of the literature specifying return-to-work factors and issues for aging workers with regard to four major causes of work disability (musculoskeletal disorders, common mental disorders, cancer or other chronic diseases). The initial review concerned the 2000-2016 literature, and was subsequently updated for November 2016-December 2018. To further explore and contextualise the results of this literature review, four focus groups were held with stakeholders, representing the workplace, insurance, and healthcare systems and workers. Qualitative thematic analysis was performed.


Fifty-five articles were reviewed and 35 stakeholders participated in the focus groups. Returning to work and staying at work appear to be particularly challenging for aging workers, who face notable issues and stigma concerning their ability to meet work demands, as well as their mobilisation and engagement in these processes. Such findings echo in many ways the main assertions of the literature on aging at work, except those regarding the transformation of capacities with aging, which is not mentioned in relation to workers with a work disability. The influence of healthcare and compensation systems on the S-RTW of aging work-disabled workers has also received little attention to date.


The results underscore that aging workers with a disability are frequently vulnerable in terms of their health or their jobs. Intersectoral efforts are needed to remedy this situation to keep them at work.

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Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

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Informationsstand: 05.07.2021

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