Nav: Home

Inability to work: Medical experts often disagree

January 25, 2017

Independent medical evaluations are often used to adjudicate disability claims. But different doctors assessing the same patient often disagree on whether the patient is disabled or not. This problem can be mitigated by applying standardized procedures, says an international study led by researchers at the University of Basel and the University Hospital Basel in Switzerland. The results have just been published in the scientific journal BMJ.

The findings from a team of researchers from Switzerland, the Netherlands and Canada are based on a systematic review of 23 studies by scientists and insurance companies across 12 countries. The earlier studies had analyzed the extent to which healthcare providers agreed when assessing patients' capacity to work in situations where this could validate disability claims.

Half of the claims were rejected

"Globally, around half of all disability claims were denied based on independent medical evaluations. However, our review of the studies found that experts are frequently in disagreement on whether an individual is incapable of working," says Regina Kunz, Professor of Insurance Medicine at the University of Basel and Head of Evidence-based Insurance Medicine at the University Hospital Basel.

Medical evaluations are often used to assess a person's capacity to work and have far-reaching consequences for employees, whose ability to work can be restricted by illness or accident.

Lack of standards

The reason medical professionals tend to offer varying assessments can likely be traced back to the lack of standards. "We found evidence that structured evaluation processes could improve the reliability of assessments," said Regina Kunz.

"Any assessment cannot be valid unless it is reliable - that is, if it is incapable of measuring what it is supposed to measure," adds co-author Jason W. Busse of McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. "Our findings are troubling because disability claimants need valid assessments - on the one hand, to avoid delays in wage replacement benefits, and on the other to prevent prolonged disability by ensuring they receive the appropriate care."

As a result, researchers determined that tools and structured approaches needed to be developed and tested in order to improve the assessment of incapacity to work. Professor Kunz's research team succeeded in developing and evaluating a new method - function-oriented assessment - for people with mental disorders as part of a study funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), the Swiss Federal Social Insurance Office (BSV) and the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund (Suva). The results will be presented in the near future.
-end-
Original source

Jürgen Barth, Wout E.L. de Boer, Jason W. Busse, Jan L. Hoving, Sarah Kedzia, Rachel Couban, Katrin Fischer, David von Allmen; Jerry Spanjer, Regina Kunz Inter?rater agreement of disability evaluation: A systematic review of reproducibility studies

BMJ (2017), doi: 10.1136/bmj.j14

University of Basel

Related Work Articles:

Ebola antibodies at work
Scientists in Israel and Germany show, on the molecular level, how an experimental vaccine offers long-term protection against the disease.
Work that kills
More than 64% of employed Russians work evenings, nights or weekends, and this is one of the highest figures among European countries.
Root canal work not so bad after all
Root canal work is not as bad as people think when compared to other dental procedures.
Reattaching to work is just as important as detaching from work, study finds
Employees who mentally reattach to work in the morning are more engaged at work, according to a new study.
Be yourself at work -- It's healthier and more productive
At work, it's healthier and more productive just to be yourself, according to a new study from Rice University, Texas A&M University, the University of Memphis, Xavier University, Portland State University and the University of California, Berkeley.
For many, 'flexible work boundaries' become 'work without boundaries'
Personal relationships and home life suffer for those tied to their work emails round-the-clock, according to a new study.
How airbags work (video)
Normally, something blowing up in your face is bad. But in the event of a vehicle accident, and in conjunction with a seatbelt, one particular explosion could very well save your life.
Personality: Where does it come from and how does it work?
How do our personalities develop? What do we come with and what is built from our experiences?
Why some of your old work commitments never seem to go away
You can quit work commitments if you want - but some of them never really leave you, new research suggests.
Study: Most enrolled in Michigan's Medicaid expansion already either work or can't work
Nearly half of the people who enrolled in Medicaid after it expanded in Michigan have jobs, a new study finds.
More Work News and Work Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.