Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Thinking Ahead
The present thesis entails a qualitative investigation of the unique notion to transition media change from the current paper-based system to the potential use of information technology innovation for communication between health care providers and employers during return to work. Stakeholder perspectives on relevant communication phenomena were gathered from workers, employers, and health care providers with experience in return to work. Methods for analysis involved critical realist grounded theory, as well as the use of a prototype innovation, named the Return to Work Expert App, as a platform for participant evaluation and discourse. The study’s findings provided comprehensive and in-depth understanding of return to work communication, beyond its empirical regularities. The generative mechanisms of common communication problems that were discovered included situated reasoning, media as information (“the medium is the message”), epistemological disjuncture, egoism-altruism-collectivism quandary, and perspective taking. A novel theoretical framework based on ecological psychology was also advanced to offer a coherent and systematic understanding of the situated nature of health care providers’ reasoning and information development. Media change via the Return to Work Expert App was argued to be limited in handling and resolving many of the communication problems that can occur. However, the app had perceptible value and benefits to prospective users that suggested a distinct advantage over current paper-based practices. Opportunities for further development and research exist to address relevant challenges, most notable of all being the need to address the app’s burden of proof. For the interested reader, this thesis advances research and knowledge of provider-employer communication to a state that is truly fitting of the importance acknowledged of it in the field of return to work. Author Keywords: critical realism, ecological psychology, media change, return to work, stakeholder communication, technological acceptance

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2011 - 2021
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Format: 2021/03/01

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