Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy

Project Chairperson

Kirsten Wilbur

Second Advisor

Renee Watling

Third Advisor

George Tomlin


industrial rehabilitation, vocational rehabilitation counselors, injured workers, return to work


Our collaborating practitioner is Lee Caton, PT, is the Regional Vice President of Peoples Injury Northwest (PINN), which has multidisciplinary industrial rehabilitation facilities across Washington and Oregon. The research question was: "Is there a difference in the rate of return to work (RTW) for injured workers who use vocational rehabilitation counselors (VRCs) versus injured workers who do not use vocational rehabilitation counselors?" A literature review discovered 57 articles that were then reviewed and synthesized into 24 total articles that included 23 quantitative and 1 qualitative article and were then assessed in a critically appraised topic (CAT). Strong evidence was found to support the effectiveness of VRCs alone while moderate evidence was found to support the effectiveness of VRCs as part of multidisciplinary team on return to work (RTW) interventions. Given the evidence supporting the use of VRCs in the industrial rehabilitation process, we wanted to translate this knowledge to PINN employees, in order for them to recognize the impact of vocational rehabilitation and gain an understanding of how they can support vocational rehabilitation counselors in the return to work process. This was done through an informational presentation delivered through telecommunication. Pre and post surveys were integrated into the presentation to assess the effectiveness of the knowledge dissemination. As our research indicated differences in VRCs effectiveness depending on their role within a multidisciplinary team or as a standalone member, further research can expand upon the more specific factors of VRCs' effectiveness to provide a stronger foundation for evidence-based practice.

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