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21.08.2018 Open Access

Managing Employees Undergoing Total Hip and Knee Replacement: Experiences of Workplace Representatives

Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Fiona Nouri, Carol Coole, Melanie Narayanasamy, Paul Baker, Sayeed Khan, Avril Drummond


Introduction There is little research on return to work (RTW) from a workplace perspective following hip and knee replacement (THR/TKR) despite employers and other workplace personnel having a key role. Our aim was to explore the experiences of individuals in the workplace in managing employees undergoing THR/TKR. Methods Employers and other workplace representatives from a cross-section of employment sectors and sizes, with experience of managing employees undergoing THR/TKR in the previous 12 months, were recruited. Interviewees included small business owners, line managers, colleagues, human resources managers and occupational health advisers. Semi-structured, qualitative interviews were conducted and data were analysed thematically. Results Twenty-five individuals were interviewed. The main themes identified were accommodating the employee, and barriers and facilitators to RTW. Accommodations included changes to the work environment, amended duties, altered hours, changed roles and colleague support. Perceived barriers and facilitators to RTW included the role of GPs and occupational health, surgical issues, characteristics of the work environment and of employees. Conclusions Employers are motivated to effect supported RTW for employees undergoing THR/TKR but have insufficient guidance. Strategies are required to signpost employers to existing RTW advice, and to develop recommendations specific to lower limb arthroplasty. Communication between medical practitioners and employers should be facilitated in order to enhance the RTW experience of individuals undergoing THR/TKR.

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