Navigating employment retention with a chronic health condition: a meta-ethnography of the employment experiences of people with musculoskeletal disorders in the UK.

Paula Holland, Stephen Clayton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose: Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are associated with high rates of work disability in the UK. This review synthesised qualitative evidence concerning the employment experiences of people with MSDs to explore the factors shaping their employment trajectories post-onset and the resources they draw on to remain in work. Material and methods: Systematic database searches identified 16 qualitative studies of the employment consequences of having a chronic MSD in the UK. Meta-ethnographic methods were utilised to synthesise this body of evidence. This included a translation of concepts across studies to produce a line of argument synthesis. Results: The lack of certainty associated with often fluctuating and invisible MSD symptoms leads to employees struggling to maintain a stable work identity. Work retention is aided by having: a clear diagnosis, occupational tasks commensurate with altered abilities, and employers and colleagues who understand the nature of the condition. The ability to negotiate and implement workplace adjustments aids work retention but is dependent upon having good quality employee-employer relationships and the degree of autonomy available to the employee. Conclusion: Individuals with MSDs must draw on a range of personal, social, organisational and institutional resources to remain in or return to work post-onset.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Early online date30 Jan 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jan 2019

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Cultural Anthropology
Health
Return to Work
Workplace
Databases

Keywords

  • musculoskeletal disorders
  • employment
  • work retention
  • return-to-work
  • workplace adjustments
  • organisational flexibility
  • qualitative
  • meta-ethnography.

Cite this

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title = "Navigating employment retention with a chronic health condition: a meta-ethnography of the employment experiences of people with musculoskeletal disorders in the UK.",
abstract = "Purpose: Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are associated with high rates of work disability in the UK. This review synthesised qualitative evidence concerning the employment experiences of people with MSDs to explore the factors shaping their employment trajectories post-onset and the resources they draw on to remain in work. Material and methods: Systematic database searches identified 16 qualitative studies of the employment consequences of having a chronic MSD in the UK. Meta-ethnographic methods were utilised to synthesise this body of evidence. This included a translation of concepts across studies to produce a line of argument synthesis. Results: The lack of certainty associated with often fluctuating and invisible MSD symptoms leads to employees struggling to maintain a stable work identity. Work retention is aided by having: a clear diagnosis, occupational tasks commensurate with altered abilities, and employers and colleagues who understand the nature of the condition. The ability to negotiate and implement workplace adjustments aids work retention but is dependent upon having good quality employee-employer relationships and the degree of autonomy available to the employee. Conclusion: Individuals with MSDs must draw on a range of personal, social, organisational and institutional resources to remain in or return to work post-onset.",
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AB - Purpose: Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are associated with high rates of work disability in the UK. This review synthesised qualitative evidence concerning the employment experiences of people with MSDs to explore the factors shaping their employment trajectories post-onset and the resources they draw on to remain in work. Material and methods: Systematic database searches identified 16 qualitative studies of the employment consequences of having a chronic MSD in the UK. Meta-ethnographic methods were utilised to synthesise this body of evidence. This included a translation of concepts across studies to produce a line of argument synthesis. Results: The lack of certainty associated with often fluctuating and invisible MSD symptoms leads to employees struggling to maintain a stable work identity. Work retention is aided by having: a clear diagnosis, occupational tasks commensurate with altered abilities, and employers and colleagues who understand the nature of the condition. The ability to negotiate and implement workplace adjustments aids work retention but is dependent upon having good quality employee-employer relationships and the degree of autonomy available to the employee. Conclusion: Individuals with MSDs must draw on a range of personal, social, organisational and institutional resources to remain in or return to work post-onset.

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