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Assessing job demands

Doctors are usually asked to fill out forms from employers or insurance companies about an employee’s ability and readiness to return to work. This information also helps determine whether the survivor:

  • needs accommodations at work
  • needs to stay off work longer to recover
  • would benefit from rehabilitation or additional health services
  • needs to consider a job more compatible with their current functioning
  • should not be working

Typically, based on the doctor’s information, the employer will determine whether there is a job ready for the patient or if they can make the necessary changes at the workplace for the patient to return or stay working. Also, the insurance company often relies on the physician’s input to determine whether patients are eligible for insurance payments.

To make the best recommendations regarding employability or work restrictions and limitations, it is important to know the specific requirements of a patient’s job. As an example, here is one survivor’s description of their job demands:

“My customer service position normally requires me to stand behind a counter for several hours at a time. I write down the details of the customer’s complaints, clarifying what has happened and what they want the store or manufacturer to do about it. This job can be challenging due to the amount of standing and the background noise within our location. It can also be emotionally draining because many of the people I deal with are upset, angry and at times demanding. Also, we often have no rest between customers, as there are often long line-ups during many of the weekend shifts.”

There are many ways to assess job demands:

An important part of assessing the patient’s ability to work is to consider the demands of the job, particularly what is considered the essential tasks of the job. By comparing your patient’s work abilities to their job demands including essential tasks, you will be able to:

  • better understand the patient’s strengths and limitations
  • communicate these adequately to employers and insurers
  • determine which aspects of the job the patient can do
  • start to identify strategies for addressing your patient’s challenges at work
  • recommend accommodations
  • advise your patient on whether they can return to their former job