Building a Common Language to Facilitate Discussion Among Stakeholders in Work Disability: A Consensus Group Approach

Coutu, M., Durand, M., Coté, D., Tremblay, D., Sylvain, C., Gouin, M., Bilodeau, K. , Nastasia, I., Paquette, M. and Marie-Elise Labrecque (2022, janvier)

Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

Vol. 32/ Springer | 8 p.


Work disability stakeholders may not share the same understanding and solutions among themselves or with researchers, causing misunderstandings and hindering collaboration regarding solutions for preventing work disability. To reduce such differences, this study sought to build a common vocabulary among stakeholders and researchers, using a transdisciplinary research framework.


A consensus method based on a constructivist approach was used. A theoretical sampling method was applied to identify researchers or stakeholders representing one of the four systems in the work disability paradigm. A preliminary set of definitions for key terms was assessed using a Web-based questionnaire. It documented participants’ level of agreement with each term’s inclusion and relevance in the field, and the clarity of the definition, while soliciting suggestions for other terms or clearer definitions. Disagreements were discussed at group meetings, yielding consensus on the final terms and definitions.


Eleven stakeholders representing patients, employers, unions, healthcare professionals, and legislative and insurance systems, along with 10 multidisciplinary researchers, participated. The questionnaire yielded initial consensus on the inclusion and definitions of 49 terms, and 109 suggestions mostly for modified definitions (average = 6 suggestions/term). Two preliminary terms were excluded and three terms were added. Ultimately, 80 terms and their definitions yielded consensus.


The process we used to build a common vocabulary was carried out within a transdisciplinary framework. It required a constructivist approach, promoting idea exchanges among participants and co-construction of generally agreed results. The results were rooted in local contexts, thus ensuring the same reference points, regardless of participants’ different understandings.