Diversity and Inclusion Hub

Pain at Work

Dr Holly Blake, Associate Professor, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences

The Pain at Work project addresses chronic pain, a condition that affects two fifths of the population. Chronic pain impacts on the ability to undertake work tasks, can result in reduced productivity, sickness, absenteeism and early retirement. Dr Holly Blake and Dr Sarah Somerset are developing an online tool for staff with chronic pain, which provides evidence-based advice on how employees can self-manage their condition at work. Online surveys to employers and employees have enabled the team to identify the barriers faced by staff with chronic pain as well as the resources which will be the most useful. Tool content is being developed through stakeholder consultation with people with chronic pain conditions, healthcare professionals, academics, employment advisors (including HR and occupational health), local councils, line managers, trade unions and workplace health champions. The online tools include best-evidence guidelines and signposting on: 1) Work-capacity advice and support, 2) Self-management strategies around working with chronic pain, promotion of healthy lifestyles, and quality of life at work, 3) Advice on adjustments to working environments and workplace solutions to facilitate work participation.

The online tool will supplement existing support mechanisms at UoN for staff who have disabilities or chronic conditions. The online resources will be hosted at the University of Nottingham and will also be made available nationally to charitable bodies and university networks. One of the strengths of the project is that it operates in partnership with influential stakeholders such as Burning Night, Pain UK and NHS Trusts.

This project not only supports the EDI strategic delivery plan in numerous ways by supporting diversity in recruitment, providing equality of experience, and contributing to the creation of an inclusive environment at UoN, but the findings which will be published at the end of the project in July 2020 will have wider policy implication regarding disability and inclusive workplaces. From this seed project, a further study to test the effectiveness of the toolkit on employee health and workability will generate evidence-based research that addresses three Areas of Research Interest of the Department of Works and Pensions:

• What are the current and future trends in disabilities and health conditions that working-age people face that require targeted policy measures to improve employment, health and wellbeing outcomes?

• What barriers prevent people with disabilities and/or health conditions from moving into and progressing in work, and which interventions are most effective at addressing these barriers?

• What new and better approaches are there, including in how we assess capability, for delivering joined-up, tailored and personalised health and work support? How can we effectively engage employers, health professionals and other stakeholders to improve work and health outcomes?

The support that Dr Blake needs is access to technical support from UoN to speed up the process of the development of the online resources.

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Diversity and Inclusion Hub

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