Development of a new tool to evaluate work support needs and guide vocational rehabilitation: the Work-ability Support Scale (WSS)
Fadyl, JK; McPherson, KM; Schluter, PJ; Turner-Stokes, L
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Purpose: This article outlines our overall approach, qualitative work, and pilot testing to develop a tool to facilitate identification of level of support needs and assist in planning for vocational rehabilitation interventions. Methods: A set of foundation principles drawn from literature and previous critiques of work-ability assessment tools were used to guide a set of studies to develop a new tool. A review of the literature regarding factors that influence work-ability, qualitative interviews and focus groups with a range of stakeholders in the return-to-work process, and pilot testing in different settings were used to develop the Work-ability Support Scale (WSS) to a stage where it had face validity, usability and acceptability for a range of key stakeholders and was ready for further testing. Results: Qualitative work and pilot testing enhanced the proposed tool with a series of changes and refinements to the content, structure and scoring framework. The current version of the tool is presented. Inter-rater reliability is presented elsewhere. Conclusion: Core principles and stakeholders’ views (injured or sick workers, employers, case managers and health professionals) support current tool design. Although further testing is required, the WSS appears to hold potential for use in the assessment of vocational rehabilitation needs.Implications for Rehabilitation Being unable to work due to injury or illness often negatively affects a person’s well-being. Vocational rehabilitation planning from the early stages of recovery assists people to make informed decisions about work choices, supports and rehabilitation. Responding to a lack of standardised tools to support vocational rehabilitation planning, the Work-ability Support Scale (WSS) was developed using a robust, multi-stage process. The WSS appears to hold good potential for use in the assessment of vocational rehabilitation needs, and as a vocational rehabilitation planning tool.