Employer Policies and Practices to Manage and Prevent Disability: Conclusion to the Special Issue

The Hopkinton Conference Working Group on Workplace Disability Prevention

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Purpose Research of employer policies and practices to manage and prevent disability spans many disciplines and perspectives, and there are many challenges related to stakeholder collaboration, data access, and interventions. The purpose of this article is to synthesize the findings from a conference and year-long collaboration among a group of invited researchers intended to spur new research innovations in this field. Methods A multidisciplinary team of 26 international researchers with published research in employer-based disability management or related fields were invited to attend a 3-day conference in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, USA. The conference goals were to review the status of current research of workplace disability management and prevention, examine its relevance for employer decision-making, compare conceptual frameworks or theoretical perspectives, and recommend future research directions. In this paper, we summarize key points from the 6 resulting papers, compare them with an earlier 2005 conference on improving return-to-work research, and conclude with recommendations for further overarching research directions. Results/Conclusion In comparison with the 2005 conference, a greater emphasis was placed on organizational and social factors, employer roles and responsibilities, methods of implementation, non-clinical approaches, and facilitating stay-at-work as well as return-to-work. A special panel of employer consultants and representatives who were featured at the 2015 conference reinforced the importance of organizational culture, leadership style, and financial decision-making strategies at the employer level. Based on the conference proceedings, we recommend that future research in this area should strive for: (a) broader inclusion of workers and workplaces; (b) attention to multilevel influences in the workplace; (c) a focus on social as well as physical aspects of work; (d) earlier employer collaboration efforts; (e) more attention to implementation factors; and (f) a broader assessment of possible outcome domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)490-498
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Disability
  • Disability management
  • Disability prevention
  • Employer
  • Research priorities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Occupational Therapy


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