Perceived injustice in injured workers: analysis of public responses to an injured worker who took Workers’ Compensation Board employees hostage

Authors

  • Cary A. Brown BMR(OT), PhD,

    [Associate Professor]
    1. Department of Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
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  • Geoff P. Bostick BScPT, PhD,

    [Assistant Professor]
    1. Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
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  • Jeannette Lim MScPT,

    [Physical Therapist]
    1. Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
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  • Douglas P. Gross BScPT, PhD

    [Associate Professor]
    1. Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
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Cary A. Brown, Department of Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, 2-64 Corbett Hall, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2G4, Canada. E-mail: cary.brown@ualberta.ca

Abstract

Scand J Caring Sci; 2012; 26; 569–578

Perceived injustice in injured workers: analysis of public responses to an injured worker who took WORKERS’ Compensation Board employees hostage

Introduction:  Injured workers’ perceived injustice can contribute to retaliatory, aggressive actions. Research also shows a relationship between persistent pain, anger and aggressive, maladaptive coping.

Aims:  We took the unique opportunity afforded by a workers compensation board (WCB) hostage taking incident to address four questions: (i) What contemporary values, beliefs, and potential behaviours about the WCB system are reflected in the online postings of other claimants (or family members of claimants) in response to the hostage taking incident? (ii) To what degree do the narratives of people who posted online (PWP) in response to this incident, demonstrate the theme of perceived injustice and support retaliatory actions? (iii) How accurate is the information relayed by PWP about the WCB system where the hostage taking occurred? (iv) What is the quality and the public utility of the information this WCB makes available to the public through on-line posting?

Methods:  We thematically analysed comments posted on a national news website in response to the hostage-taking. We focused on posted narratives from people who stated that they had personal involvement with WCB. We also assessed the accuracy of the comments about WCB made in these narratives against the information available on the WCB website. A standardized assessment tool was used to determine the readability and accessibility of the WCB website.

Findings:  Emergent themes were: retribution, perceived systemic mistreatment, justice/injustice, empathy, disbelief, and loss. There were many inaccurate beliefs about the Workers’ Compensation Board. The overall quality of readability and accessibility of the website was low.

Conclusion:  Narratives indicated perceived procedural injustice attributed to a flawed and uncaring compensation system. Inaccurate beliefs about WCB and poor quality of the public website may have contributed to suffering, miscommunication and perceptions of unjust, systemic mistreatment. Findings support a relationship between perceived injustice and aggressive retaliatory action.

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