Development of methods that focus on people’s work ability

Work ability is a complex phenomenon, and the concept is not very easy to define as it is influenced by so many factors. Assessment methods as well as interventions need to be studied carefully in order to optimise measures in work rehabilitation and enable evidence-based rehabilitation. 

My research has long been dedicated to understanding and explaining the concept of  work ability, and to this end it has produced a conceptual frame of reference, Assessment of Work Functioning (AWF). Another central element of my research involves the continuing development and testing of two instruments used in assessing work ability – Assessment of Work Performance (AWP) and Assessment of Work Characteristics (AWC). Both of these instruments are based on the Model of Human Occupation.

Development of instruments

As a complement to AWP I have also developed AWC, a work requirements analysis that focuses on what demands a work task places on an individual. AWP and AWC thus allow for an individual’s capacity (evaluated using AWP) to be matched to the requirements of a particular job (evaluated using AWC), providing a fuller assessment. Recently my research has increasingly come to include the development and evaluation of interventions aimed at improving the subject’s work ability and employability, and this is an area of research I intend to dedicate myself to even more in the future. AWP currently has a large number of users in Sweden, but the tool has also been translated to other languages, including English, Dutch and Icelandic. Translations into further languages are in progress.

Assistant supervisor

I am the assistant supervisor of Maria Borgestig, who is a doctoral student on the research project “Eye controlled computers in everyday life – for children with severe physical disabilities”. The research project is part of the research theme “Young and digital – enabling technology.”

Teaching work rehabilitation 

 I am currently the course coordinator on two courses at Linköping University, both connected with the field of work rehabilitation. The course Work Rehabilitation, on which I am also the examiner, is a first-cycle course offered within the context of the Occupational Therapy programme. The other course is the Master’s course Occupational therapy and work rehabilitation.

Research theme
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Assessment instruments
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Research collaboration
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My network includes both national and international researchers. Below are some examples of my research collaborations. Translating the assessment instruments to various languages is part of my work, and I plan to take part in projects intended to translate AWP to Spanish, German, Finnish, Danish and Norwegian, in collaboration with researchers/research groups in other countries.

Försäkringskassan

In the summer of 2010 Försäkringskassan was commissioned, in collaboration with the National Board of Health and Welfare and in consultation with Arbetsförmedlingen, to further develop methods and instruments for the assessment of work ability within public health insurance. Early in 2013 a new model for assessment of work ability, known as the activity ability analysis (aktivitetsförmågeutredningen, or AFU, in Swedish), was presented, and the model  included AWP as an occupational therapy instrument. As a part of the development of the new method, AWP (specifically the AWP-FK application) was evaluated in a project which I coordinated: Prövning av diskriminativ förmåga för AWP-F (Försäkringskassan, pdf).

Evaluation of the activity ability analysis  

As a further element of the evaluation of AFU, Linköping University (LiU) was also awarded research funds from Försäkringskassan (SEK 3 million) for a more comprehensive evaluation of the AFU method. This evaluation is being carried out as a joint LiU project, composed of two subprojects. I am project coordinator of one of the subprojects, and am collaborating on it with Professor Björn Gerdle of the Department of Medical and Health Sciences (abbreviated IMH in Swedish). I am also collaborating closely with researchers Christian Ståhl and Ida Seing, both of them also of IMH, who are in charge of the other subproject.

Karolinska Institutet (KI)

One project I am involved in, which was initiated by KI, deals with measuring the effects on clients’ work ability of intensive cognitive rehabilitation following an acquired brain injury. Among other instruments, this project uses AWP for measuring effect. I am collaborating on it with KI’s Marie-Louise Schult, Adjunct senior lecturer, and doctoral student Kristina Sargenius Landahl.

University of Illinois at Chicago

I am also collaborating with Professor Renee Taylor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. One example of this collaboration is that I have recently accepted an offer to be the main author of a chapter in the fifth edition of the book “Model of Human Occupation”. This commission is for a new chapter, which was not included in earlier editions and which is entitled “Applying the Model of Human Occupation to Work Rehabilitation”. Professor Taylor has the overall responsibility for the book.

Translations

Work is underway on translations of AWP to Finnish, Norwegian, Danish and German, and for studies related to the translation process as well as for distribution of the instrument I am collaborating with:

• Riita Keponen, Jennie Nyman and Janett Halonen at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Helsinki, Finland.

• Barbara Piskur and Marluuke Jakobs at Hogeschool Zuyd, Heerlen, the Netherlands. This project aslo includes Senior Lecturer Paul Enthoven at IMH.

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Appointments

• Project coordinator of a research project to evaluate Försäkringskassan’s new method Activity ability analysis (AFU)

• Examiner on the course Work Rehabilitation on the Occupational Therapy programme

• Course coordinator on the course Work Rehabilitation on the Occupational Therapy programme, and on the course Occupational therapy and work rehabilitation

• Deputy member of the board of the Department of Social and Welfare Studies (ISV)


Academic qualifications

• Registered Occupational therapist 1994

• Doctor of Medical Science 2007

Are you doing research in the same field?

If you are a researcher in the field of work rehabilitation, assessment of work ability and/or instrument development, you are more than welcome to contact me to discuss possibilities for collaboration in various forms:

jan.sandqvist@liu.se

Publications
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Selected publications
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Jan Sandqvist, Chris Henriksson (2004)

Work , Vol.23 , s.147-157 Continue to DOI

Jan Sandqvist, Mathilda Björk, Mats Gullberg, Chris Henriksson, Björn Gerdle (2009)

Work , Vol.32 , s.211-218 Continue to DOI

Chia-Wei Fan, Renee R. Taylor, Elin Ekbladh, Helena Hemmingsson, Jan Sandqvist (2013)

OTJR (Thorofare, N.J.) , Vol.33 , s.125-133 Continue to DOI

Research project
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Collaboration with researchers in Occupational therapy
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