Tool to help workers with chronic and episodic health conditions

Institute for Work & Health plans to make tool available later this month

Tool to help workers with chronic and episodic health conditions

The Institute for Work & Health will soon have a new evidence-based tool to help workers with chronic and episodic health conditions continue to work safely, comfortably, and productively in their jobs.

The Job Demands and Accommodation Planning Tool (JDAPT) will be launched online on March 21st. It will allow workers with chronic conditions to learn about potential supports and accommodations specific to their job demands. Workers will then be able to implement them on their own or, if necessary, seek support from their employer, without necessarily having to disclose their health condition.

"For workers with chronic health conditions, the fear of not being able to work during flare-ups or as they age often looms large," says IWH senior scientist Dr. Monique Gignac, the director of the Accommodating and Communicating about Episodic Disabilities (ACED) partnership project that developed the tool. "Yet, with the right supports and accommodations at work, many of these workers can continue in their jobs for many years. The JDAPT aims to help them do just that."

Chronic conditions include mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, Crohn’s disease, colitis, multiple sclerosis, migraine, rheumatic diseases like arthritis and lupus, chronic fatigue syndrome, many musculoskeletal conditions such as low-back pain and tendinopathies, HIV/AIDs, as well as many forms of cancer and rare diseases.

These conditions are often referred to as “episodic” because they tend to worsen, improve, or fluctuate over time. According to a 2019 report from Statistics Canada, 3.8 million Canadians aged 15 and over have an episodic disability. Given the unpredictability of these conditions, and the fact that they are often invisible to others, they create unique challenges in managing workplace disabilities.

The ACED partnership is developing several tools to help workers and workplace parties overcome these challenges. The JDAPT for workers is the first of them. The tool is free, and available in both English and French. A JDAPT for employers to help them support workers with chronic conditions will be available in the summer of 2023.