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:

Do open relationships really work?
Open relationships typically describe couples in which the partners have agreed on sexual activity with someone other than their primary romantic partner, while maintaining the couple bond.
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.
More Work News and Work Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

In & Out Of Love
We think of love as a mysterious, unknowable force. Something that happens to us. But what if we could control it? This hour, TED speakers on whether we can decide to fall in — and out of — love. Guests include writer Mandy Len Catron, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, musician Dessa, One Love CEO Katie Hood, and psychologist Guy Winch.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#543 Give a Nerd a Gift
Yup, you guessed it... it's Science for the People's annual holiday episode that helps you figure out what sciency books and gifts to get that special nerd on your list. Or maybe you're looking to build up your reading list for the holiday break and a geeky Christmas sweater to wear to an upcoming party. Returning are pop-science power-readers John Dupuis and Joanne Manaster to dish on the best science books they read this past year. And Rachelle Saunders and Bethany Brookshire squee in delight over some truly delightful science-themed non-book objects for those whose bookshelves are already full. Since...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab