Traumatic upper limb injury is a leading cause of work-related disability. After return-to-work (RTW), many survivors of injuries are able to regain a quality of life (QoL) comparable with the normal population. Since RTW plays an important role in economic productivity and regaining health-related QoL, enhancing RTW in workers with traumatic limb injuries is the primary goal of rehabilitation. Vocational rehabilitation has been commonly employed in the field of occupational safety and health to increase the number of injured people returning to the labour market, prevent illness, increase well-being, and reduce disability.
To assess the effects of vocational rehabilitation programmes for enhancing RTW in workers with traumatic upper limb injuries.
This is an update of a Cochrane review previously published in 2013. We updated our searches of the following databases: the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; 2017, Issue 9), MEDLINE (to 30 August 2017), EMBASE (to 3 September 2017), CINAHL (to 6 September 2017), and PsycINFO (to 6 September 2017), and we handsearched the references lists of relevant review articles.
We aimed to include all randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing vocational rehabilitation with an alternative (control) intervention such as standard rehabilitation, a limited form of the vocational rehabilitation intervention (such as advice on RTW, referral information, or liaison with employer), or waiting-list controls.
Two authors independently inspected abstracts, and we obtained full papers when necessary. When the two authors disagreed about the inclusion of a study, we resolved disagreements by discussion. A third author arbitrated when necessary.
Our updated search identified 466 citations. Based on assessments of their titles and abstracts, we decided to evaluate the full texts of five records; however, none met our inclusion criteria.
There is currently no high-quality evidence to support or refute the efficacy of vocational rehabilitation for enhancing RTW in workers with traumatic upper limb injuries. Since injured people in occupational settings frequently receive vocational rehabilitation with the aim of decreasing work disability, enhancing RTW, increasing productivity, and containing the welfare cost, further high-quality RCTs assessing the efficacy of vocational rehabilitation for workers with traumatic upper limb injury are needed to fill this gap in knowledge.