Cambridge, MA, August 16, 2022 – As concerns about behavioral health problems increased in recent years, the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) heard through system stakeholder interviews that early screening for psychosocial risk factors is important to prevent delayed recovery.

“The COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on the importance of behavioral health,” said John Ruser, president and CEO of WCRI. “In particular, workers’ compensation stakeholders recognize that unaddressed behavioral health issues might delay a worker’s recovery and return to work and increase medical costs. This study helps to identify behavioral health issues in workers’ compensation and create a common language and understanding.”

The report, A Primer on Behavioral Health Care in Workers’ Compensation, does the following:

  • Identifies behavioral health issues that are encountered in workers’ compensation, which range from psychosocial factors affecting recovery and return to work, to psychological symptoms and mental health diagnoses.
  • Describes tools that are available for early screening for psychosocial factors and other mental health conditions.
  • Details the services that are being provided in these instances, which include non-medical and medical interventions.
  • Discusses data needs for answering important questions about behavioral health.

For the report, the authors interviewed workers’ compensation system stakeholders, including employers, insurers, labor advocates, and medical care providers. They also performed a review of occupational medical treatment guideline recommendations related to the provision of behavioral health services, as well as a literature review of studies focused on behavioral health services provided in workers’ compensation systems. By combining the stakeholder perspectives with information from guidelines and literature, this report could be used to form a common understanding about behavioral health in workers’ compensation.

For more information about this study or to purchase a copy, visit WCRI’s website at Vennela Thumula and Sebastian Negrusa are the authors of the study.


The Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) is an independent, not-for-profit research organization based in Cambridge, MA. Organized in 1983, the Institute does not take positions on the issues it researches; rather, it provides information obtained through studies and data collection efforts, which conform to recognized scientific methods. Objectivity is further ensured through rigorous, unbiased peer review procedures. WCRI's diverse membership includes employers; insurers; governmental entities; managed care companies; health care providers; insurance regulators; state labor organizations; and state administrative agencies in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.


Return to Press Releases listing