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Work and wellbeing-related consequences of different return-to-work pathways of persons with spinal cord injury living in Switzerland

Abstract

Study design

Observational study based on the 2012 community survey of the Swiss Spinal Cord Injury Cohort Study (SwiSCI).

Objectives

To investigate work and wellbeing-related consequences of different return-to-work (RTW) pathways after SCI.

Setting

Community-based.

Methods

Using a subsample of 243 SwiSCI participants, we determined whether a respondent had returned to the pre-injury employer, started with a new employer or had not returned to gainful employment post-SCI. For each pathway, descriptive statistics were provided and work and wellbeing-related consequences were examined with regression analyses.

Results

One hundred eleven (45.7%) participants had returned to their pre-injury employer, 80 (32.9%) had changed employers and 52 (21.4%) had never returned to paid work post-SCI. Although returning to the pre-injury employer was associated with a shorter RTW time and a higher current weekly work time compared with starting work with a new employer, no significant differences were found with regard to current employment status and post-SCI work duration. Concerning wellbeing-related outcomes (i.e., income, quality of life and life satisfaction), the two pathways did not differ.

Conclusions

Although lasting RTW had beneficial wellbeing outcomes, the specific pathway initially taken (i.e., pre-injury vs. new employer) appeared less crucial. Although the two pathways seem equally viable, longitudinal data are required to corroborate the present findings, and future research needs to clarify the role of the client triage system and of vocational rehabilitation practices with regard to person–job match and its impact on job satisfaction and job performance.

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Ethics declarations

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to all the participants of the SwiSCI survey for their time and effort spent in responding to the questions. We also thank Gerold Stucki for helpful feedback on an earlier version of this paper. We further thank the personnel of the SwiSCI study center and the SwiSCI Steering Committee whose members are: Xavier Jordan, Bertrand Léger (Clinique Romande de Réadaptation, Sion); Michael Baumberger, Hans Peter Gmünder (Swiss Paraplegic Center, Nottwil); Armin Curt, Martin Schubert (University Clinic Balgrist, Zürich); Margret Hund-Georgiadis, Kerstin Hug (REHAB Basel, Basel); Hans Georg Koch (Swiss Paraplegic Association, Nottwil); Nadja Münzel (Parahelp, Nottwil); Hardy Landolt (Representative for persons with SCI, Glarus); Mirjam Brach, Gerold Stucki (Swiss Paraplegic Research, Nottwil); Martin Brinkhof, Christine Thyrian (SwiSCI Study Center at Swiss Paraplegic Research, Nottwil).

Author contributions

BT was responsible for designing the study, conducting the data analysis, interpreting results and preparing the article. US and JR contributed to the data interpretation and article preparation.

Funding information

The study was financed by Swiss Paraplegic Research within the framework of the Swiss Spinal Cord Injury Cohort Study (SwiSCI).

Author information

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Correspondence to Bruno Trezzini.

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