The Psychology of Workers Compensation Claims in Orlando, FLVaughan Law Group
Orlando, FL – When employers and employees think of the term “workers’ compensation”, the first thing that often comes to mind is being compensated for a serious physical injury related to the job or one that happened while at work. However, workers’ compensation is much more than that: an injury, apart from taking into consideration the physical aspect, also takes into consideration psychological and sociological factors, termed the bio-psycho-social phenomenon. The notion holds that any sort of adverse stimulus from the environment affects all three facets of an individual’s functioning, and even work together to exacerbate the injury and its related complications.
But why is this important? As an employer, it’s necessary for you to be aware of the risks you may be putting yourself at when neglecting the social and psychological facets of your injured worker’s treatment. As an employee, you should be aware of what you are entitled to in terms of workers’ compensation, especially when it comes to your mental well-being.
Workers Compensation and the Role of Psychology
Over the past decade, psychology has received support in the field of workers compensation. Before that, psychosocial factors were not taken seriously and were often not offered the consideration they should have in relation to work-related injuries, as well as the reactions that followed the injury. It has been made pretty clear over the past couple of decades that medical treatment, even pure psychiatric treatment, is futile without following a framework of treatment that involves psychotherapy. Usually, individuals who suffered from a disturbance that could not be linked to their physical distress were simply told that they “need counseling”. Not because psychology was favored in any way, but only because doctors believed that “it’s all in the patient’s head”.
However, the importance of psychology and the psychological factors affecting the well-being of patients is given top consideration. This is simply for the reason that a human being is an amalgamation of all the factors, internal and external that surrounds him. Physical disability affects mental health, and mental health affects physical wellness. Both mental health and physical wellness are affected by and affect social factors.
The Concept of Delayed Recovery
Delayed recovery refers to the phenomenon of a patient taking longer than the expected time to respond to treatment. Of course, we understand the biological aspect of the model. Research has conclusively proven that psychological and psychosocial factors are equally responsible as well.
It has been widely accepted among medical professionals that the primary element responsible for delaying recovery from an illness are psychosocial factors. This includes: a favorable home environment and of course a congenial work environment.
Research has indicated that when workers are injured on the job, they are susceptible to avoidance behaviors which are fueled by fear and leads to catastrophic thinking. This inevitably makes it difficult for the worker to carry out his tasks adequately. Furthermore, if the worker in engaging in unhappy relations with individuals who impact his work (including family, employers, colleagues, and even the insurer), it can exacerbate the extent of their “perceived” disability, as the need to get well lessens.
Psychological assessments are being incorporated into early phases of treatment for four reasons:
- To assess how the patient has been affected as a result of physical injury, which could be potentially debilitating to the injured worker’s performance after returning to work
- To rule out the possibility of the presence of a psychological disorder and confirm medical cause
- To identify potential risks of delayed recovery
- To prescribe the most appropriate mode of treatment based on the findings
Delayed recovery is influenced by the factors such as depression, anxiety, abuse, personality disorders, and compromised motivation, which affect the individual equally. It’s important to take into consideration, not only what the physician believes, but also what the patient believes, because that is ultimately what will affect the outcome of treatment.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits & Psychological Tests
Of course, injured workers can’t just get away with simply stating that their psychological or social areas of functioning are being disturbed. Everything requires evidence.
The Battery of Health Improvement
The test is used to indicate the average expected severity of depression by comparing the injured person with a control group of both injured as well as non-injured populations.
Screen for Psychological Risk in Injury and Illness
The test is designed to provide physicians with objective data about whether or not any psychosocial factors could be affecting medical treatment. The test consists of a rating scale in which physicians are required to rate (based on observation and semi-structure interviews) the following factors:
- Inappropriate or extreme emotion
- Substance abuse
- Focus on excessive compensation
- Excessive medication
- Employer-employee conflict
- Non-compliance with treatment
Employers Affecting Delayed Recovery
Research has shown that two primary factors responsible for exacerbating delayed recovery in injured workers are job dissatisfaction and more importantly dissatisfaction with the worker’s immediate supervisor. If the immediate supervisor has an uncongenial relationship with the employee, the chances of the employee being on extended medical leave increases, as the motivation to return to work continues to decrease.
Workers’ Compensation & what are employers responsible for?
- See how the injured employee is holding up
- Offer support and convey that you are looking forward to having them back
- Offer support to the employee after he returns to work (best achieved through the use of empathy)
- Design a program targeted at setting goals and solving problems in order to reintegrate the employee into their social and daily activities (and therefore well-being)
- Have a counselor on-site for the worker to consult when needed
Orlando Workers Compensation Contact Information
Contact Vaughan Law Group’s Orlando Workers Compensation Attorneys today for your free initial consultation. You can contact Vaughan Law Group at (407) 434-0074.