Preferred Methods of Measuring Work Participation: An International Survey Among Trialists and Cochrane Systematic Reviewers

Margarita Ravinskaya, Jos H. Verbeek, Miranda W. Langendam, Ira Madan, Suzanne M. M. Verstappen, Regina Kunz, Carel T. J. Hulshof, Jan L. Hoving

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Heterogeneity in work participation (WP) outcomes measurements hampers large scale evidence synthesis in systematic reviews of trials. In this survey we explore authors’ reasons for choosing specific WP outcomes and their measurement methods, including employment status, absence from work, at-work productivity loss, and employability.
Methods: We contacted authors of 260 trials and 69 systematic reviews and asked closed and open-ended questions about previously used WP outcomes and measurement methods as well as their opinion on the best way to measure WP.
Results: In total, 91 authors from a wide range of professional backgrounds completed the survey. The majority of authors (86%) chose WP outcomes based on their use in previous similar studies. In most studies (88%), patients had not been involved in the process of selecting the WP outcome. Authors judged feasibility to be an important factor for choosing a measurement instrument (67%). Additionally, valid measurement tools should be available, easy to administer and not too time consuming. Although authors preferred registry data for long term follow-up, the availability and validity of registries was seen as a barrier. Most of the reviewers (72%) struggled to pool data because of variation in follow-up times and cut off points and varying definitions of work outcomes. Almost all (92%) respondents support the use of a Core Outcome Set for Work.
Conclusions: There is strong support from authors of trials and systematic reviews to develop a core outcome set on work participation outcomes for the evaluation of interventions.

Key words: survey, return-to-work, worker participation, vocational rehabilitation, outcome studies
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of occupational rehabilitation
Early online date26 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2022


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