Instruments for assessing work ability

The use of complementary data collection methods is a prerequisite for achieving a complete assessment of work ability. The information generated by WRI and WEIS interviews, and by AWP and AWP observations, constitutes an important foundation for planning person-centred rehabilitation measures.

An appropriate assessment of an individual’s work ability should focus on the individual’s ability to carry out work tasks in a work situation, not just consist of an assessment of the individual’s functional conditions for work.

Matching the person’s ability with job demands

The Assessment of Work Performance instrument (AWP) makes it possible to make an activity-based assessment of clients’ work ability in different work tasks, in both real-life and created settings. When assessing work ability it is also important that the assessor has a conception of what demands are made on the individual in the work situation, in order to be able to draw any conclusions about the client’s performance, which is to say that the assessor should analyse the demands of the specific work situation as well. Such an analysis can be made using the Assessment of Work Characteristics (AWC) instrument, which is intended to assess what demands for various skills are made on the client in different work situations.
AWP and AWC are instruments that are intended to be used in combination, and they allow the assessor to make a more comprehensive assessment of both the client’s performance and the demands that the work places on the client. The assessment instruments can be used as methods for creating a basis for recommendations regarding adaptations and measures for clients, but also to evaluate the effects of made interventions on clients’ ability to carry out work.

The importance of a satisfactory work environment

By using WEIS the assessor can identify the individual’s perception of how work environment factors support or impede people’s well-being, and their execution of work . For people with experience of sick leave, social interaction at work and meaningfulness of work have emerged as important supportive factors. The perception of excessive demands in relation to work execution, and the lack of fair rewards for executed work are highlighted as impeding factors.

Motivation and lifestyle have an impact on work potential

Assessments on the basis of WRI, which consists of a semi-structured interview and subsequent rating, provide information about motivation factors for returning to work, e g for faith in one’s own ability and the ability to take responsibility. The areas “roles” and “habits” consider lifestyle factors such as the individual’s capacity to adapt to a work role, and willingness to change.  WRI’s ability to predict a return to work following long term sick leave has been tested in several studies. The areas in WRI which have proven to be strongly predictive of a return to work are the individual’s motivation for returning to work, i. e. his/her self-perception of competence and effectiveness in carrying out work tasks and deal with challenges in work, and what the individual’s habits and routines outside of work are. In work rehabilitation it is of central importance to look at the whole, i e both how things function at work and what the individual’s activities and life – daily routines and habits – are like outside of work, when carrying out interventions aimed at supporting individuals’ return to work following sick leave, or to improve individuals’ possibilities of getting into work.

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The four instruments AWC, AWP, WEIS and WRI are used by county council-based, national, municipal and private rehabilitation actors in Sweden for the assessment of individuals’ work ability.

The assessment instruments are used by, for example, Arbetsförmedlingen, Försäkringskassan and a large number of private, municipal and county council investigation and rehabilitation centres. AWP has been selected as the occupational therapeutic instrument to be part of Försäkringskassan’s AFU method (Activity Ability Investigation) but the instrument is also recommended for the assessment of work ability by SKL (Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions) and Sveriges Arbetsterapeuter (Swedish Association of Occupational Therapists). 

For more information about user licences for the instruments and courses on the use of the assessment instruments:

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