Rehabilitation – a worthwhile investment

ISSA report confirms that investing in rehabilitation pays off for employers, social security systems and society as a whole.

SW – 09/2017

Following on from the report ‘Calculating the International Return on Prevention for Companies: Costs and Benefits of Investments in Occupational Safety and Health’, the International Social Security Association (ISSA) has published a study on ‘The Return on Work Reintegration’. 


The project partners involved in the study included the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV), the Institute of Work and Health of the DGUV (IAG), the Canadian National Institute of Disability Management and Research (NIDMAR), Rehabilitation International (RI) and IBM Cúram. The study came to the conclusion that investing in rehabilitation and work reintegration pays off for employers, social security systems and society as a whole. 


The study used financial balance sheets for employers, social security systems and society to estimate the return on investment for medical and occupational rehabilitation measures. The results are presented as estimated cost-benefit ratios and show the large economic return from investing in work reintegration measures. 


The medium effectiveness scenario shows that for every euro invested in rehabilitation measures, employers receive an average return of 3.7 times their initial investment. The estimated average ROI for social security systems is 2.9. From a societal perspective, only productivity-related costs and benefits were taken into consideration; this showed that productivity gains outweigh losses by an estimated factor of 2.8.  


Although rehabilitation and work reintegration measures are economically important investments, the public debate about these measures is often dominated by arguments on costs. The aim of the study was to investigate whether rehabilitation is a worthwhile investment from a financial point of view and to better quantify the financial benefits of occupational reintegration. Despite the ‘uncertainty’ regarding causal effects, the results confirm that effective rehabilitation measures ‘pay off’ on average and that the benefits clearly outweigh the costs. 


An article on the ISSA study is available here