Scoping review of claimants' experiences within Australian workers' compensation systems Academic Article uri icon


  • Objective The aim of this scoping review was to map the literature on the lived experiences of injured workers in Australia in order to better understand the factors that inhibit the transition back to work and improved health. The ultimate aim of the study was to identify areas for further research into workers’ compensation systems and practices that are associated with improved occupational rehabilitation outcomes. Methods PubMed, ProQuest, Embase and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) were searched for eligible articles published in English in peer-reviewed journals from 2001 to 2017. Narrative data synthesis was used to analyse the data collected from included articles. Results Twelve articles examining injured workers’ experiences within Australian workers’ compensation systems were identified. Injured workers reported similar experiences across states and territories in Australia. Four common themes and three subthemes were noted, namely: (1) relationships and interactions; (2) injured workers’ perceptions (subthemes: mental health effects, social effects and financial effects); (3) the workers’ compensation process; and (4) independent medical evaluations. Conclusions There are common difficulties that injured workers experience within Australian workers’ compensation systems that are reported to impede rehabilitation and return to work. A less harmful, more cooperative approach to worker rehabilitation and compensation is needed. What is known about the topic? Different workers’ compensation systems exist throughout Australia. Little is known about injured workers’ perceptions of their experiences within these systems in Australia and whether these experiences are similar or different across systems. What does this paper add? This scoping review synthesises available evidence showing that injured workers report negative experiences of workers’ compensation systems, and that this experience is similar across the different systems. This review also identified a clear need for future research on workers’ compensation systems in order to promote evidence-based approaches to best support the occupational rehabilitation of injured workers. What are the implications for practitioners? Evidence suggests a more holistic, biopsychosocial approach is required by practitioners when facilitating an injured worker’s recovery and return to work. This approach is also vital when considering legislative reforms, such as workers’ compensation systems, processes and practices.

publication date

  • 2019