Return to work of people with post-covid condition
At a glance
Moving forward from the COVID-19 pandemic, health systems around the world are adapting to new ways of providing health care services alongside discovering pressing global health issues including mental health issues, substance misuse and abuse, and the disruption in people’s everyday living among others.
According to the World Health Organisation (2021, p. 11), an emerging condition is being identified called “Post COVID-19 Condition” or PCC which “occurs in individuals with a history of probable or confirmed SARSCoV-2 infection, usually 3 months from the onset of COVID-19 with symptoms that last for at least 2 months and cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis”.
People who have PCC present symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, and cognitive dysfunction among others that disrupt everyday functioning. The onset of these symptoms varies as it could be present after initial recovery from acute COVID-19 episode or can persist from the initial illness; symptoms may also fluctuate or relapse over time. Considering the current landscape of modern work, we have to understand that apart from the increasing rates of unemployment and underemployment, mass job resignations, and silent quitting (doing the bare minimum at work), PCC exacerbates the situations of adult workers who have had COVID-19 and wants to return to work.
Return-to-work or RTW is a developmental and dynamic process that entails multiple phases, transitions, actions, and events with the goal of resuming work after a disability (Young, 2005). According to Asaba et al. (2021), occupational therapists have an important role in facilitating the process of RTW specifically in the contexts of work rehabilitation and community reintegration. However, the RTW process differ from one country to another considering the variation of contexts in terms of social insurance policies, employment guidelines, clinical pathways for rehabilitation practitioners, and national regulations regarding RTW among others (Asaba, Sy et al. 2022). This implies that occupational therapists could have differing roles and positions when it comes to working with people who have PCC.
The World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) published position statements on vocational rehabilitation (2012) and work-related practice (2016) where it emphasized the role of occupational therapists in helping people with disabilities to enter, re-enter, return to, and/or remain at work within workplaces that are safe, healthy, and fair.
Accomplishing this scoping review can allow us to provide baseline information in generating clinical guidelines for occupational therapists and to rehabilitation teams working with and supporting people with PCC.
- To describe the return to work (RTW) process implementation for people with post-COVID condition.
- To identify the role of occupational therapists in this practice area
Method and approach
The main part of the study is a scoping review to investigate how RTW is applied in relation to people with PCC and identify the roles of occupational therapists in this area of practice. The findings from the scoping review will lay down the foundational knowledge concerning the gaps, processes, and way forward of RTW in today’s health and social care systems. To do this, we intend to conduct a scoping review following six stages.
- Stage 1: First, the definitive research question will be defined.
- Stage 2: The search strategy will be defined including in- and exclusion criteria, keywords and relevant databases for the search.
- Stage 3: By using the study selection website Covidence (2016), the studies will be screened by at least two people on the basis of the title and the abstract and then included or excluded.
- Stage 4: We will extract and evaluate the evidence from the selected studies. If applicable, we will select a specific method or model for doing so.
- Stage 5. The evidence is synthesized and will be associated with other relevant studies. In the publication, the background, the methodological approach, and the results are presented in a comprehensible manner.
- Stage 6: We will contact stakeholders to validate our results and include their opinion in the discussion. The study protocol will be registered at the Open Science Framework (https://osf.io/) repository for transparency and visibility.