Use of a Decision Support Tool on Prognosis of Work Ability in Work Disability Assessments: An Experimental Study Among Insurance Physicians

I. Louwerse*, M. A. Huysmans, H. J. van Rijssen, C. L.I. Gielen, A. J. van der Beek, J. R. Anema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose Assessment of prognosis of work disability is a challenging task for occupational health professionals. An evidence-based decision support tool, based on a prediction model, could aid professionals in the decision-making process. This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of such a tool on Dutch insurance physicians’ (IPs) prognosis of work ability and their prognostic confidence, and assess IPs’ attitudes towards use of the tool. Methods We conducted an experimental study including six case vignettes among 29 IPs. For each vignette, IPs first specified their own prognosis of future work ability and prognostic confidence. Next, IPs were informed about the outcome of the prediction model and asked whether this changed their initial prognosis and prognostic confidence. Finally, respondents reported their attitude towards use of the tool in real practice. Results The concordance between IPs’ prognosis and the outcome of the prediction model was low: IPs’ prognosis was more positive in 72 (41%) and more negative in 20 (11%) cases. Using the decision support tool, IPs changed their prognosis in only 13% of the cases. IPs prognostic confidence decreased when prognosis was discordant, and remained unchanged when it was concordant. Concerning attitudes towards use, the wish to know more about the tool was considered as the main barrier. Conclusion The efficacy of the tool on IPs’ prognosis of work ability and their prognostic confidence was low. Although the perceived barriers were overall limited, only a minority of the IPs indicated that they would be willing to use the tool in practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-196
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Cite this