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Occupational advice to help people return to work following lower limb arthroplasty: the OPAL intervention mapping study

Baker, Paul; Coole, Carol; Drummond, Avril; Khan, Sayeed; McDaid, Catriona; Hewitt, Catherine; Kottam, Lucksy; Ronaldson, Sarah; Coleman, Elizabeth; McDonald, David A; Nouri, Fiona; Narayanasamy, Melanie; McNamara, Iain; Fitch, Judith; Thomson, Louise; Richardson, Gerry; Rangan, Amar

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Paul Baker

Carol Coole

Professor of Healthcare Research

Sayeed Khan

Catriona McDaid

Catherine Hewitt

Lucksy Kottam

Sarah Ronaldson

Elizabeth Coleman

David A McDonald

Fiona Nouri

Iain McNamara

Judith Fitch

Gerry Richardson

Amar Rangan


Background: Hip and knee replacements are regularly carried out for patients who work. There is little evidence about these patients' needs and the factors influencing their return to work. There is a paucity of guidance to help patients return to work after surgery and a need for structured occupational advice to enable them to return to work safely and effectively. Objectives: To develop an occupational advice intervention to support early recovery to usual activities including work that is tailored to the requirements of patients undergoing hip or knee replacements. To test the acceptability, practicality and feasibility of this intervention within current care frameworks. Design: An intervention mapping approach was used to develop the intervention. The research methods employed were rapid evidence synthesis, qualitative interviews with patients and stakeholders, a prospective cohort study, a survey of clinical practice and a modified Delphi consensus process. The developed intervention was implemented and assessed during the final feasibility stage of the intervention mapping process. Setting: Orthopaedic departments in NHS secondary care. Participants: Patients who were in work and intending to return to work following primary elective hip or knee replacement surgery, health-care professionals and employers. Interventions: Occupational advice intervention. Main outcome measures: Development of an occupational advice intervention, fidelity of the developed intervention when delivered in a clinical setting, patient and clinician perspectives of the intervention and preliminary assessments of intervention effectiveness and cost. Results: A cohort study (154 patients), 110 stakeholder interviews, a survey of practice (152 respondents) and evidence synthesis provided the necessary information to develop the intervention. The intervention included information resources, a personalised return-to-work plan and co-ordination from the healthcare team to support the delivery of 13 patient and 20 staff performance objectives. To support delivery, a range of tools (e.g. occupational checklists, patient workbooks and employer information), roles (e.g. return-to-work co-ordinator) and training resources were created. Feasibility was assessed for 21 of the 26 patients recruited from three NHS trusts. Adherence to the defined performance objectives was 75% for patient performance objectives and 74% for staff performance objectives. The intervention was generally well received, although the short time frame available for implementation and concurrent research evaluation led to some confusion among patients and those delivering the intervention regarding its purpose and the roles and responsibilities of key staff. Limitations: Implementation and uptake of the intervention was not standardised and was limited by the study time frame. Evaluation of the intervention involved a small number of patients, which limited the ability to assess it. Conclusions: The developed occupational advice intervention supports best practice. Evaluation demonstrated good rates of adherence against defined performance objectives. However, a number of operational and implementation issues require further attention. Future work: The intervention warrants a randomised controlled trial to assess its clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness to improve rates and timing of sustained return to work after surgery. This research should include the development of a robust implementation strategy to ensure that adoption is sustained.


Baker, P., Coole, C., Drummond, A., Khan, S., McDaid, C., Hewitt, C., …Rangan, A. (2020). Occupational advice to help people return to work following lower limb arthroplasty: the OPAL intervention mapping study. Health Technology Assessment, 24(45),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 13, 2020
Online Publication Date Sep 1, 2020
Publication Date Sep 1, 2020
Deposit Date Jan 20, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jan 20, 2021
Journal Health Technology Assessment
Print ISSN 1366-5278
Electronic ISSN 2046-4924
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 24
Issue 45
Keywords Health Policy
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Free to read: This content has been made freely available to all.; Contractual start date: 7-2016; Editorial review begun: 4-2019; Accepted for publication: 1-2020


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