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HomeNewsRNSH Professor awarded best 2020 research paper

RNSH Professor awarded best 2020 research paper

The editorial board of leading Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation has recognised the work of Royal North Shore Hospital clinical psychologist Professor Michael Nicholas and his team in awarding them best research paper published in 2020.

The paper is titled ‘Implementation of Early Intervention Protocol in Australia for ‘High Risk’ Injured Workers is Associated with Fewer Lost Work Days Over Two Years Than Usual (Stepped) Care’.

It found that a protocol implemented by key stakeholders (including employer, insurance company, and health care providers) for recently injured workers achieved better return to work outcomes than those undergoing usual care under the NSW workers compensation scheme.

NSW Health staff with recent work injuries, and identified by a screening instrument as being at high risk for delayed recovery, were recruited for the study, known as WISE (Work Injury Screen Early). The protocol involved engaging the injured staff member, their treating healthcare providers, hospital employer, insurance case manager, and a clinical psychologist to provide targeted care within three weeks of the injury.

The brief screening instrument used to identify the high-risk workers, the Örebro Musculoskeletal Pain Screening Questionnaire, was developed by Michael and his research colleagues in Sweden.

The significantly superior return to work rates of the early intervention group were sustained over the two-plus year follow up phase.
Royal North Shore Hospital clinical psychologist Professor Michael Nicholas


Michael said the WISE study continues to have an impact in practical applications across the country.

“NSW Health implemented the protocol for injured health workers in all public hospitals in the state since 2017, and Australia Post has engaged us for a replication trial of the WISE protocol for their injured workers. They recently decided to implement the protocol as their business-as-usual model.

“I am so proud our research can have a practical impact and is not just left on the library shelf,” Michael said.

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