What leads to the expectation to return to work? Insights from a Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) model of future work outcomes.

Debra Dunstan, T. Covic, Graham Tyson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: This study used a Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) model to identify the factors influencing the future work expectations and outcomes of employees with a musculoskeletal injury.Participants: Australians with a compensable work injury (N = 174), mean age = 43.7 years, 53.2% male, 48.3% back injury, and 34.2% unskilled.Methods: A TPB model of the target behavior 'working, or continuing to work'three months from now' was constructed. A questionnaire measuring the model's components was completed at baseline and three-months follow-up. Results: The model met standard psychometric requirements. Attitude, Subjective Norm and Perceived Behavioral Control explained 76% of the variance in Behavioral Intention (R2= .76, p< .001). Behavioral Intention (the expectation to return to work) explained 51% of the variance in work participation at follow-up (NagelkerkeR2= .51, p< .001; sensitivity = 86.4%, specificity = 71.2%). The strength of key influences on expectations varied according to employment status, but included the availability of modified duties, social aspects of work, the opinion of the treating doctor, co-worker support, pain, and functional limitations.Conclusion: The TPB is a useful theoretical model and conceptual framework for identifying the influences on future work expectations and integrating the biopsychosocial determinants of return to work (RTW) found in the empirical literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-37
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013


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