Trial record 13 of 13 for:    Recruiting, Not yet recruiting, Available Studies | "Occupational Exposure"

SMART Supervisor Training Program to Prevent Work Disability

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Know the risks and potential benefits of clinical studies and talk to your health care provider before participating. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT02309996
Recruitment Status : Recruiting
First Posted : December 5, 2014
Last Update Posted : August 24, 2017
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety
Institute for Work & Health
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Vicki Kristman, Lakehead University

Brief Summary:

Supervisors of injured workers play a key role in preventing prolonged work absences. Providing supervisors with tools to improve their response to musculoskeletal and other workplace injuries or illnesses may improve worker health and disability outcomes.

The primary objective of this research study is to determine the effectiveness of the supervisor training program, the SMART Supervisor Training Program, on reducing the total duration of workers' lost-time claims. The secondary objectives are 1) to determine the effectiveness of the training program on reducing the cumulative incidence of workers' lost-time injuries and sick leave days; 2) to determine if implementation of the training program is associated with improvements in hypothesized mediating variables, such as attitudes toward job accommodations, response to workplace injury, and communication with employees and healthcare providers; 3) to investigate the implementation of the training program by conducting a process evaluation.

The investigators hypothesize that:

  1. the duration of lost-time claims for workers working under supervisors receiving the training program will be shorter than the duration of lost-time claims for workers with supervisors in the control group;
  2. the cumulative incidence of lost-time injuries and sick leave days will be lower in the group receiving the training program compared to the control group;
  3. the training program will be associated with increased knowledge, response, communication and changed attitudes towards workplace accommodation.

This research is of significance to North American employers and compensation systems because there is a lack of knowledge about the usefulness of supervisor training to prevent or reduce work disability. It also has important implications for guiding employer policies and practices, and for identifying circumstances where supervisor training should be a priority.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Work Disability Reduction and Prevention Improving Return-to-Work Outcomes Behavioral: Supervisor Training Program Not Applicable

Detailed Description:

This study is a multi-centred, cluster randomized, controlled, single-blinded, fixed sample trial.

The project will involve several large Canadian and American employers. Participating work units within the organizations will be randomly assigned to either the training program (intervention group) or not (control group). Randomizing geographically separate work units works best to prevent contamination of supervisors selected to be the control group. However, the employer will decide what constitutes a work unit (e.g., separate building, division, etc.). The work units will be pair-matched into clusters based on number of employees, gender proportions, and work tasks as best as possible. A total of 86 work units (43 work unit pairs) including approximately 350 supervisors is required to achieve the primary objective, with fewer work units and supervisors required to achieve the secondary objectives. Within each cluster, one work unit will receive the training program and the other will act as the control. All supervisors within those work units randomized to receive the intervention will attend a four-hour supervisor training session. Before training is administered to the randomly assigned work units, all supervisors (intervention group and control group) will receive an email with an attached information pamphlet about principles for successful return to work. The purpose of the information pamphlet is to minimize the Hawthorne Effect, whereby subjects change their behaviour in response to the knowledge that they are being studied or monitored.

The work disability outcomes (duration of lost-time injuries in days, and cumulative incidence of lost-time injuries and sick leave days) will be determined from workplace records, and outcomes data will be extracted and analyzed at the level of the work unit. Since the intervention is a training program, it is impossible to blind the participating supervisors. However, the data extractor and individuals working in each employer's Occupational Health & Safety Department will be blinded to the results of the work unit randomization and no other workers will be informed if the supervisors in their work unit received the training program or not.

To collect information about the hypothesized mediating variables, consenting supervisors will be asked to complete three online questionnaires: baseline and two follow-up questionnaires (three and six months post-randomization). The baseline and follow-up questionnaires will also collect information on potential moderating and confounding factors including workplace safety culture, supervisor autonomy, corporate disability management, leadership style, workplace social capital, and workers' physical work demands, supervisor demographics, and characteristics of supervised workers (e.g., number, gender proportions, unionization status). Analysis of the mediating variables will be conducted at the level of the work unit. Data for the process evaluation will be obtained from a brief exit training program evaluation survey distributed to participants in the intervention group as well as the three and six month follow-up questionnaires.

This is a pragmatic, intent-to-treat trail, so participants will be analyzed according to the group they were randomly assigned to. However, the investigators will also obtain information about supervisor transfers among work units (and the direction of the transfers) for the one year period post-randomization to understand how such transfers may have influenced the results.

Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Estimated Enrollment : 350 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: None (Open Label)
Primary Purpose: Prevention
Official Title: A Supervisor Training Program for Work Disability Prevention: A Cluster RCT
Study Start Date : December 2014
Estimated Primary Completion Date : March 2018
Estimated Study Completion Date : December 2018

Arm Intervention/treatment
Experimental: Supervisor Training Program
All supervisors from work units randomized to the intervention will receive a supervisor training program, the Supervisor/Manager Accommodation Recognition & Training (SMART) Program. This training program is modeled on a program developed by Shaw and colleagues of the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety (LMRIS). The aim of the training program is to prevent/reduce work disability by improving supervisor communication, response to workplace injury, and problem solving mechanisms. The training program is designed to be administered by two facilitators to groups of 10 to 12 supervisors, during one 4-hour session or two 2-hour sessions. The training program delivery mode includes PowerPoint presentation with supplementary audio or video segments, case studies, and group discussion.
Behavioral: Supervisor Training Program
No Intervention: No Supervisor Training Program
All supervisors from work units randomized to the control group will not receive the supervisor training program.

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Total duration of workers' lost-time claims due to injury or illness for existing and new claims [ Time Frame: 1 year period post-randomization ]
    Aggregated lost-time due to injury or illness.

Secondary Outcome Measures :
  1. Cumulative incidence of workers' lost-time injuries [ Time Frame: 1 year period post-randomization ]
    Summing all new cases of lost-time injuries across worker groups..

  2. Total number of workers' sick leave days [ Time Frame: 1 year period post-randomization ]
    Summing up sick leave days across worker groups.

  3. Job Accommodation Scale (JAS) [ Time Frame: Baseline, 3 months, 6 months ]

    The JAS is a 21-item self-report measure developed to assess the likelihood that various job modification might be supported in the workplace. For more information see:

    W. S. Shaw, V. L. Kristman, K. Williams Whitt, S. Soklaridis, Y. Huang, P. Côté and P. Loisel. 2014. The Job Accommodation Scale (JAS): psychometric evaluation of a new measure of employer support for temporary job modifications. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation 24 (4): 755-765.

  4. Supervisor's Role in Rehabilitation Questionnaire [ Time Frame: Baseline, 3 months, 6 months ]

    This instrument asks supervisors to rank their self-efficacy to engage in all of the rehabilitation tasks associated with vocational rehabilitation. The survey uses a series of Likert scales, using response categories which classify each rehabilitation task as either being: "very difficult to do"; "hard to do"; "easy to do"; or "very simple to do". This scale is seen as a continuum of supervisor ability, and a measure of their self-rated capacity to engage in vocational rehabilitation at their own workplaces. The reliability estimate for the use of this rating scale is acceptable (Cronbach alpha = 0.89) and Rasch analysis supports the premise that all 20 rehabilitation items being estimated are unidimensional.

    I. Blackman and K. Chiveralls. 2011. Factors influencing workplace supervisor readiness to engage in workplace-based vocational rehabilitation. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation 21 (4): 537-546.

  5. Behaviour Measure for Supervisors to Support Return to Work (SSRW) questionnaire [ Time Frame: 6 months ]

    The SSRW was developed using supervisor and employee populations and there is a version for supervisors and a version for employers. The 42 items in the scale are related to supervisor behaviours during an employee's absence from work and subsequent return to work. The measure consists of four sub-scales: communication and support during sick leave, inclusive behaviour upon initial return, negative behaviours and general proactive support following return to work. A total score is obtained by summing the responses, with a higher score indicating more supportive behaviours. The measure has good internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and construct validity. The SSRW will be included in the 6-month follow-up questionnaire only.

    F. Munir, J. Yarker, B. Hicks and E. Donaldson Feilder. 2012. Returning employees back to work: developing a measure for Supervisors to Support Return to Work (SSRW). Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation 22 (2): 196-208.

  6. Supervisor Support Scale from the "Readiness for RTW Study" [ Time Frame: Baseline, 3 months, 6 months ]

    The supervisor support scale was designed to assess the relations between injured workers and supervisors. This scale is based on items from a previously used questionnaire and also includes items developed by a clinical psychologist, organizational psychologist, psychometrist, and a graduate student in community health. Although this scale was originally developed for response by injured workers, we modified the 8-item scale for supervisor response. We will average all responses not indicating "Don't Know" to determine a supervisor support score from 1 to 4 where higher scores indicate better supervisor interaction.

    R. Franche, C. N. Severin, S. Hogg Johnson, H. Lee, P. Côté and N. Krause. 2009. A multivariate analysis of factors associated with early offer and acceptance of a work accommodation following an occupational musculoskeletal injury. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine 51 (8): 969-983.

  7. Supervisory Behavior Questionnaire [ Time Frame: Baseline, 3 months, 6 months ]

    The supervisory behaviour scale was designed to assess positive supervisory behaviour regarding communication with the employee, promotion of gradual return to work, and consultation with other professionals. The scale includes 7 statements about interactions between supervisors and injured workers and asks supervisors to indicate how much they agree or disagree with each statement. Responses to all statements will be summed and will result in a final score between 7 and 35 where lower scores indicate positive supervisor behaviour.

    K. Nieuwenhuijsen, J. H. Verbeek, A. G. de Boer, R. W. Blonk and F. J. van Dijk. 2004. Supervisory behaviour as a predictor of return to work in employees absent from work due to mental health problems. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 61 (10): 817-823.

  8. Supervisor and Healthcare Provider Interactions questionnaire [ Time Frame: Baseline, 3 months, 6 months ]
    Communication with healthcare providers will be measured with a questionnaire assessing supervisors' interactions with healthcare providers developed specifically for the mixed-methods study. The five questions were selected from existing publications as we could not find an existing scale appropriate for our needs through the literature review. Three constructs will be measured from these questions including healthcare communication (i.e., do you communicate with providers?), healthcare beliefs (i.e., does the supervisor believe the provider understands the nature of the job?), and healthcare information (i.e., how often does a provider help you return a worker to work?). The scale has good face validity and reliability in the supervisor population as determined from our previous project.

  9. Global Work Safety Climate (GWSC) Scale [ Time Frame: Baseline, 6 months ]

    A 6-item measure that assesses global work safety climate. For more information:

    S.E. Hahn. 2008. A short scale for measuring safety climate. Safety science 46 (7): 1047-1066.

  10. Organizational Policies and Practices (OPP) Scale (13 questions about organizational disability management policies and practices) [ Time Frame: Baseline ]
    Amick BC III, Habeck RV, Hunt A, et al. Measuring the impact of organizational behaviors on work disability prevention and management. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation 10 (1): 21-38.

  11. Supervisor Autonomy for Provision of Job Accommodations questions [ Time Frame: Baseline ]
    Three questions using a likert scale.

  12. Leader Behavior Description Questionnaire (LBDQ) [ Time Frame: Baseline, 3 months ]
    Halpin AW. Manual for the Leader Behaviour Description Questionnaire. Columbus, OH:Bureau of Business Research, Ohio State University, 1957.

  13. Physical Workload Questionnaire (PWQ) [ Time Frame: Baseline ]
    Bot SDM, Terwee CB, van der Windt DAWM, et al. Internal consistency and validity of anew physical workload questionnaire. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2004;61:980-86.

  14. Training program reach (proportion of the target group that participates) [ Time Frame: Up to 1 month post-randomization ]
    Calculation of the percentage of supervisors that participate in the training.

  15. Training program dose delivered (efforts of the trainers) [ Time Frame: Up to 1 month post-randomization ]
    Training program dose delivered (efforts of the trainers).

  16. Training program dose received (extent to which the supervisors have followed the training) [ Time Frame: Up to 1 month post-randomization ]
    Training program dose received (extent to which the supervisors have followed the training).

  17. Training program fidelity (extent to which the training program was delivered according to the protocol) [ Time Frame: Up to 1 month post-randomization ]
    Training program fidelity (extent to which the training program was delivered according to the protocol)

Information from the National Library of Medicine

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Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older   (Adult, Older Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Supervisors
  • Currently employed at the work units selected by participating employers
  • Supervise at least one working employee (i.e., non-supervisor)
  • Would deal with issues of work accommodation should the need arise

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Higher level supervisors who only supervise lower-level supervisors
  • Do not speak/read English

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT02309996

Contact: Vicki L Kristman, PhD 807-343-8961

Canada, Ontario
Lakehead University Recruiting
Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, P7B5E1
Principal Investigator: Vicki L Kristman, PhD         
Sponsors and Collaborators
Lakehead University
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety
Institute for Work & Health
Principal Investigator: Vicki L Kristman, PhD Lakehead University

Responsible Party: Vicki Kristman, Assistant Professor, Lakehead University Identifier: NCT02309996     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: MOP-130505
First Posted: December 5, 2014    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: August 24, 2017
Last Verified: August 2017

Keywords provided by Vicki Kristman, Lakehead University:
Occupational Exposure
Randomized Controlled Trial
Intervention Studies
Inservice Training
Personnel Management
Work place
Work accommodation
Job modification
Return to Work
Industrial Psychology
Human Engineering
Risk Management
Organization and Administration
Work Disability
Occupational Diseases
Occupational Injury
Occupational Health
Sick Leave
Employee Health