A systematic review of the factors affecting the provision of social support from co-workers during the return-to-work process

Yvette Wagner, Josh Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Work is understood to generally benefit health and well-being, while absence from work bestows costs to the health of the individual and to the economy. Return-To-Work plans are implemented in many workplaces to allow individuals to sustainably recommence their duties. A key factor which determines the success of Return-To-Work plans is the availability of social support in the workplace. Objective: This review sought to deepen understanding of the factors that affect co-workers' provision of social support to returning colleagues. Methods: Sixteen papers were selected and a meta-ethnography was used to synthesise novel insights from the data. Results: Four categories of antecedent factors were identified, relating to: individual workplace actors, the condition, the culture of the workplace, and the quality of the organisation of the Return-To-Work plan. These factors are proposed to both directly and indirectly affect social support via co-worker perceptions of the fairness of work accommodations. Conclusions: Improved formal communication within the workplace, education on stigmatising conditions, and the role of the supervisor in encouraging supportive behaviours emerged as key facilitators of social support. Suggestions are given for improving the availability of social support in the workplace.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBrighton Journal of Research in Health Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2016


Bibliographical note

© 2016 Brighton Journal of Research in Health Sciences


  • Return to Work
  • Employment
  • Social Support
  • Rehabilitation
  • Review

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