Health screening questionnaires used in the management of mental distress acquired during an injured worker’s return to work: a scoping review.

Health screening questionnaires used in the management of mental distress acquired during an injured worker’s return to work: a scoping review.

Background:

Mental distress is often endured by injured workers participating in the return to work (RTW) process following a physical injury. Delays in detecting the onset and treating mental distress can lead to a diverse range of cognitive and behavioural changes that may precipitate psychological distress such as anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress.

Objective:

The objective of this review was to provide an overview of existing health questionnaires to determine their effectiveness and suitability to detect mental distress endured by injured workers engaged in the RTW process.

Methods:

A scoping review methodology was conducted using the Arksey and O’Malley framework which examined peer-reviewed articles published between 2000 and March 2020 comprising health questionnaires.

Results:

Most of the health questionnaires reviewed were used as screening measures for identifying both work and non-work-related psychological hazards. However, they were found to be limited in their application when considering all potential predictors of delayed RTW.

Conclusion:

Earlier identification of mental distress using an optimal mental health screening questionnaire followed by appropriate intervention will reduce the risk of psychological injury becoming cumulative on a physical workplace injury. Without such complications, early RTW can be achieved with significant cost saving to the economy.