Facilitators of and barriers to return to work after mild traumatic injury: A thematic analysis

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Individuals with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) may experience protracted symptoms affecting their ability to work. Several actors may facilitate or act as a barrier to a successful return to work (RTW). This qualitative study used semi-structured in-depth interviews with 22 adults with mTBI at 2–5 years post injury, targeting experiences of how different actors facilitated or acted as a barrier in the RTW process, and encompassed the mTBI trajectory from the acute phase to the post-acute phase. A thematic analysis with a hermeneutical phenomenological approach was used to analyse data. Three main themes emerged. (1) Worker–employer relationship: Workplace accommodations such as decreased working hours, modified working conditions, and support from co-workers were lacking. (2) The role of the general practitioner: The general practitioner was lacking treatment and referral opportunities and failed to provide the patient with relevant and individualized guidance. (3) Municipal case management: Participants perceived being met with distrust by social workers, follow-up assessments were too frequent, unnecessary, and did not target concussion, and rehabilitation was referred too late. Clinical practice guidelines to improve referral to relevant concussion rehabilitation in case of persistent symptoms are needed to inform clinicians, employers, and public institutions to facilitate a successful RTW.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNeuropsychological Rehabilitation
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1349-1373
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

ID: 243336823