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Psycho-social factors impacting return to work following traumatic injury

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Psychological mechanisms influencing the effectiveness of return to work rehabilitation in survivors of traumatic injury  

What we are doing?

The PhD will contribute to developing a psycho-social theoretical approach to better understand successful vocational rehabilitation among people recovering from traumatic injury. This work will inform the NIHR sponsored ROWTATE (Return to Work After Trauma) study which aims to develop and test a vocational rehabilitation (VR) for trauma patients. The PhD will systematically review the existing psychological evidence and theory on VR. It will analyse qualitative data generated during the ROWTATE study with the aim of developing a psycho-social theoretical approach which supports the delivery of the ROWTATE trial and identifies predictors of sustainable return to work.  

Why we are doing it?

Moderate or severe traumatic injuries can be life changing and long-lasting, and there is evidence of both psychological and physical impairment delaying return to work. In England in 2015, there were 700,000 major trauma hospital admissions of patients of working age. The ROWTATE vocational rehabilitation intervention includes psychological support but there is limited theoretical and empirical understanding of the specific psychological mechanisms of successful return to work.  The PhD will address this knowledge gap by informing psycho-social theory which can be applied in practice to vocational rehabilitation intervention for recovering patients.  

What the benefits will be and to whom?

The cost of delayed return to work following injury is not only financial (for patients, the NHS, and society through welfare provision) but also psychological and social. The PhD will: contribute to greater understanding of the complex mechanisms affecting vocational rehabilitation; develop psycho-social theories; and enhance the potential impact of the ROWTATE intervention. The knowledge has the potential to benefit patients and practice within health and social care.  

Who we are working with?

The parent NIHR sponsored study: ROWTATE (Return to Work After Trauma) is based in the Medical School at the University of Nottingham.  The Chief Investigators are Professor Denise Kendrick (injury epidemiology) and Dr Kate Radford (occupational health). The ROWTATE team is comprised of multidisciplinary contributors as well as PPI. Accounts from traumatic injury survivors and service providers will inform core mechanisms and potential factors that can contribute to vocational rehabilitation.  


Kay Bridger, PhD researcher at NTU,