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1.  Process evaluation of a web-based intervention aimed at empowerment of disability benefit claimants 
The objective of this process evaluation study was to gain insight into the reach, compliance, appreciation, usage barriers, and users' perceived effectiveness of a web-based intervention This intervention was aimed at empowerment of disability claimants, prior to the assessment of disability by an insurance physician.
Reach was determined by registering claimants exposed to the study's invitation brochures, and by comparing trial participant characteristics with non-participants and nationwide claimant data. Compliance was registered by analyzing weblogs, which were automatically collected during the period of the trial. This made it possible to analyze individual use of the intervention. Appreciation, usage barriers, and users' perceived effectiveness were assessed using an online questionnaire that was sent to participants from the intervention group, 6 weeks after enrolment.
Only 9% of the target population enrolled in the internet program. Because of selective enrolment, more females, higher educated claimants, and less ethnical minorities were reached. Compliance was ambiguous: out of the 123 participants randomized into the intervention group, a significant proportion (33%) did not use the intervention at all, while, at the same time, many participants (32%) used the intervention for more than two hours (i.e. in approximately two weeks). Overall satisfaction with the intervention was good. Claimants perceived the intervention most effective in increasing knowledge, while also a fair amount of users perceived the intervention effective in gaining right expectations or being able to communicate better with their physician.
The uptake of the intervention was disappointing. Specifically, the poor reach and compliance of the intervention resulted in a small proportion of the target population using the intervention as intended. Improvements in the implementation process are desirable to increase the reach and compliance and, thereby possibly, the impact of the intervention.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3048479  PMID: 21324172
2.  The feasibility of a web-based counselling program for occupational physicians and employees on sick leave due to back or neck pain 
The objective of this feasibility study was to gain insight into occupational physicians' (OPs) and employees' use of, and attitudes towards, 'Snelbeter' (Get Well Fast), a new web-based counselling program for employees on sick leave due to non-specific back or neck pain and their OPs.
Registered user information was collected from the website to get insight in the use of the program by employees (n = 24). Qualitative information was obtained through semi-structured in-depth interviews with 19 OPs and nine employees in order to get insight in the actual use of the provided information, the attitudes towards the program and possible improvements of the program.
Actual use of the program among OPs was low. The majority of OPs, eight out of 11 (73%), never or only occasionally signed in. The greatest obstacle for OPs to use the program was the low number of eligible employees involved. Employees appreciated the program but their use was moderate. A small majority of the employees who used the program, 14 out of 24 (58%), opened 50% to 100% of the provided documents, a majority of the interviewed employees, seven out of nine (78%), used the provided information sometimes or regularly. The absence of personal contact was found to be a major barrier towards use of the program by employees.
Although both OPs and employees appreciated the idea of the program and employees appreciated using it, program utilization was moderate to low. The discussion section reveals that before implementation can be started to any extent, the program will need adaptations that make it more attractive to use. The program should be considered for both return to work (RTW) and the prevention of sick leave. Adding personal contact (e.g. involving physiotherapists) to the program may also be promising.
PMCID: PMC2779794  PMID: 19895689
3.  Empowerment of disability benefit claimants through an interactive website: design of a randomized controlled trial 
Individuals claiming a disability benefit after long-term sickness absence, have to undergo medical disability assessments. These assessments, often carried out by specialized physicians, can be complicated by wrong expectations or defensive attitudes of disability benefit claimants. It is hypothesized that empowerment of these claimants will enhance the physician-patient relationship by shifting claimants from a passive role to a more active and constructive role during disability assessments. Furthermore, empowerment of claimants may lead to a more realistic expectation and acceptance of the assessment outcome among claimants and may lead to a more accurate assessment by the physician.
In a two-armed randomized controlled trial (RCT), 230 claimants will be randomized to either the intervention or control group. For the intervention group, an interactive website was designed using an Intervention Mapping procedure. This website was tested during a pilot study among 51 claimants. The final version of the website consists of five interactive modules, in which claimants will be prepared and empowered step-by-step, prior to their upcoming disability assessment. Other website components are a forum, a personal health record, a personal diary, and information on disability assessment procedures, return to work, and coping with disease and work disability. Subjects from the control group will be directed to a website with commonly available information only.
Approximately two weeks prior to their disability assessment, disability claimants will be recruited through the Dutch Workers Insurance Authority (UWV). Outcomes will be assessed at five occasions: directly after recruitment (baseline), prior to disability assessment, directly after disability assessment as well as 6 and 16 weeks after the assessment. The study's primary outcome is empowerment, measured with the Vrijbaan questionnaire. Secondary outcomes include claimants' satisfaction, perceived justice, coping strategy, and knowledge. A process evaluation will also be conducted.
This study evaluates the effectiveness of an interactive website aimed at empowerment of disability claimants. It is hypothesized that by increasing empowerment, the physician-patient relationship may be enhanced and claimants' satisfaction and perceived justice can be improved. Results are expected in 2010.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC2689177  PMID: 19426557

Results 1-3 (3)