Making it Work™ - Scotland

Making it Work™ - Scotland

Supporting people with musculoskeletal disorders in Scotland to remain in work: adapting the Making it Work™ intervention developed for people with inflammatory arthritis in Canada (Making it Work - Scotland)

Duration: 01 March 2022 - 28 February 2024
Funder: Chief Scientist Office
Chief investigator: Professor Gary Macfarlane
Co-chief investigator: Dr LaKrista Morton
Other co-investigators: Dr Rosemary Hollick, Dr Elaine Wainwright, Dr Diane Lacaille (Arthritis Research Canada), Professor Karen Walker-Bone (University of Southampton)

Musculoskeletal conditions affect around 1 in 3 Scottish adults and have a substantial impact on individuals’ work. There is a lack of services supporting individuals with long-term conditions, to help those who wish to remain working to do so. Making it Work™ is an online self-management programme developed in Canada which supports people working with inflammatory arthritis. The programme helped individuals to feel more capable to meet their work demands and reduced the likelihood of periods of sickness absence.

Using group discussions and interviews, we will seek input from patients, employers, and healthcare professionals on aspects of the programme to modify and adapt in order to expand it for people with a wider range of musculoskeletal conditions working in Scotland. Specifically, we plan to expand the programme to individuals with non-inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and chronic regional or widespread pain. We will work with experts and eLearning specialists to make changes to the programme based on this feedback and we will also establish how the programme could be delivered within NHS Scotland.

After we have revised the programme, we will seek further patient feedback which will inform any final changes to the programme. The proposed research would lead to a modified version of an established programme.


Further information

What is the background to the study?

​​​​​​One in three adults in Scotland are affected by a musculoskeletal condition, and these conditions have a substantial impact on individuals’ lives including their work participation. They impact on individuals’ productivity at work and, after minor illnesses, they account for the greatest number of days of sickness absence in the UK. Importantly, reduced productivity and sickness absence are both associated with a higher risk of subsequently withdrawing from work. Supportive work environments are important for helping individuals with musculoskeletal conditions to maintain healthy working lives, however, there are specific work challenges for people with long-term musculoskeletal conditions and patients have highlighted that support to work often remains an important unmet need. While pain and symptom management programmes exist, specifically managing challenges at work is not usually addressed within these programmes.

The Making it Work™ programme was developed in Canada to support individuals with inflammatory arthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or spondyloarthritis) to stay in work for as long as they wish to do so. Making it Work™ is a self-management programme consisting of five online modules including educational material and interactive activities which cover topics related to arthritis and employment, such as managing fatigue and stress at work, and building supportive working relationships. ​​​​​​​

This programme has been shown to help individuals feel better able to meet their work demands, and reduced the likelihood of prolonged sickness absence .

What does the study aim to do?

We intend to adapt the Making it Work™ programme  so that it is relevant for people working with a larger range of musculoskeletal conditions and to adapt its delivery to the Scottish health and social care context. We plan to expand the programme to people with fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and chronic regional and widespread pain which represent common and disabling non-inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions in Scotland.

What will this research involve?

The research will consist of three distinct stages, or workpackages. Within these workpackages we will aim to:

  • Explore ideas with patients and other key stakeholders about how to develop or adapt the programme so that it is relevant for people with non-inflammatory conditions who are working in Scotland;
  • Identify which aspects of the current programme are specific to inflammatory conditions only, specific to the Canadian health and social care context, and / or specific to a work context which does not necessarily generalise to a post-COVID working world;
  • Understand possible referral pathways to the programme, which healthcare professionals may be best placed to deliver the programme, any implementation barriers and facilitators, and any issues affecting organisational capacity which could facilitate the delivery of the programme within NHS Scotland
  • Make changes to the content and/or delivery of the programme based on findings from the above;
  • And finally, assess the acceptability, relevance, and usability of the modified programme with patients with inflammatory and non-inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions who are working in Scotland.
Who can take part in the study?

​​​​​​Across the study’s main stages we will be recruiting across a number of different groups for each of the workpackages, including patients with inflammatory or non-inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions, employers across small-, medium- and large-enterprises, and a range of healthcare professionals. We primarily intend to recruit participants through existing clinical contacts (such as rheumatology services, pain clinics, physiotherapy and occupational therapy) as well as existing professional and research networks.

How will this research benefit patients and society?

The Making it Work™ programme has been successful in Canada in supporting people with inflammatory arthritis to stay in work for as long as they wish to. This not only has obvious economic benefits for society, but participation in working life is also known to have many personal and social benefits for individuals. This study will help us to effectively tailor this programme to the Scottish context, both for those working with inflammatory and non-inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions.

How can I get involved?

We do not intend to recruit for this study from the general public at this time, though we may do so in the future. Please check back in the future.

Study team

The following team will be responsible for delivering the study:

Who is funding this study?

This study is funded by Chief Scientist Office.

Contact details