Work Disability Prevention CIHR Strategic Training Program

Work Disability: a worldwide, harmful, and costly problem

Work Disability occurs when a worker is unable to remain at or resume work because of a health problem. The productivity loss resulting from poor employee health or work disability imposes large individual, social, and economical burdens and is a major concern to workers, their families, employers, policy makers, insurers, and occupational healthcare providers. Evidence indicates that work disability results from complex interplays involving several partners (workplace, insurer, healthcare providers) interacting with the patient/worker in the disability process. Addressing this systemic and multidimensional disability problem requires adopting a transdisciplinary perspective. This evidence applies to various types of disorders (such as musculoskeletal disorders, mental health problems, cardiovascular diseases, cancer survivors) since the focus of work disability prevention (WDP) is helping workers stay productive at work, or return to a healthy productive work life.

Why offer a training program in WDP?

Researchers entering the field of work disability prevention each come from a specific discipline (e.g., medicine, rehabilitation, biomechanics). It follows that they often have a relatively narrow perspective on work disability and are not well prepared to address the complexity of WDP. In particular, they are not prepared to design and conduct field studies involving multiple stakeholders who have different perspectives (employers, unions, workers’ compensation boards). This may lead to difficulties in developing and implementing research projects and may discourage some researchers from continuing in the field. Opportunities to train investigators in the full spectrum of work disability and work and health issues are rare. They generally occur informally through close collaboration with some of the few research leaders in this field. However, these leaders are geographically dispersed, leaving little opportunity for cross-fertilization. The CIHR Strategic Training Program in Work Disability Prevention helps young researchers develop their transdisciplinary knowledge, skills and attitudes regarding WDP by using the trainees' own disciplinary knowledge and research projects to contribute to the transdisciplinary experience. The Program is led by 30 mentors from Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands and the United States, who are all distinguished for their significant contribution to the advancement of WDP.

Contact Information

Work Disability Prevention CIHR Strategic Training Program
Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Health Sciences Building
Room 661, 155 College Street
Toronto, ON M5T 3M7
General Email:


+1 416 978-7513

CRWDP Contact:

Sandra Knol

CRWDP Contact Email: