A general framework for selecting work participation outcomes in intervention studies among persons with health problems: a concept paper


Work participation is important for health and can be considered as engagement in a major area of life which is of significance for most people, but it can also be thought of as fulfilling or discharging a role. Currently, academic research lacks a comprehensive classification of work participation outcomes. The International Classification of Functioning is the foremost model in defining work functioning and its counterpart work disability, but it does not provide a critical (core) set of outcomes. Standardizing the definitions and nomenclature used in the research of work participation would ensure that the outcomes of studies are comparable, and practitioners and guideline developers can better decide what works best. As work participation is a broad umbrella term including outcome categories which need unambiguous differentiation, a framework needs to be developed first.

To propose a framework which can be used to develop a generic core outcome set for work participation.

First, we performed a systematic literature search on the concept of (work) participation, views on how to measure it, and on existing classifications for outcome measurements. Next, we derived criteria for the framework and proposed a framework based on the criteria. Last, we applied the framework to six case studies as a proof of concept.

Our literature search provided 2106 hits and we selected 59 studies for full-text analysis. Based on the literature and the developed criteria we propose four overarching outcome categories: (1) initiating employment, (2) having employment, (3) increasing or maintaining productivity at work, and (4) return to employment. These categories appeared feasible in our proof-of-concept assessment with six different case studies.

We propose to use the framework for work participation outcomes to develop a core outcome set for intervention studies to improve work participation.


Margarita Ravinskaya, Jos H. Verbeek, Miranda W. Langendam, Ira Madan, Suzanne M. M. Verstappen, Regina Kunz, Carel T. J. Hulshof & Jan L. Hoving


Journal: BMC Public Health
Volume: 22
Pages: -
Year: 2022
DOI: 10.1186/s12889-022-14564-0

Further Study Information

Current Stage: Completed
Funding source(s):

Health Area

Disease Category: Other

Disease Name: N/A

Target Population

Age Range: Unknown


Nature of Intervention:

Stakeholders Involved

Study Type

- Recommendations made
- Systematic review of outcome measures/measurement instruments