Bio-psychosocial determinants of time lost from work following non life threatening acute orthopaedic trauma

Background: To determine factors predicting the duration of time away from work following acute orthopaedic non life threatening trauma. Methods: Prospective cohort study conducted at four hospitals in Victoria, Australia. The cohort comprised 168 patients aged 18-64 years who were working prior to the injury and sustained a range of acute unintentional orthopaedic injuries resulting in hospitalization Baseline data was obtained by survey and medical record review. Multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression analysis was used to examine the association between potential predictors and the duration of time away from work during the six month study. The study achieved 89% follow-up. Results: Of the 168 participants recruited to the study, 68% returned to work during the six month study. Multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression analysis identified that blue collar work, negative pain attitudes with respect to work, high initial pain intensity, injury severity, older age, initial need for surgery, the presence of co-morbid health conditions at study entry and an orthopaedic injury to more than one region were associated with extended duration away from work following the injury. Participants in receipt of compensation who reported high social functioning at two weeks were 2.58 times more likely to have returned to work than similar participants reporting low social functioning. When only those who had returned to work were considered, the participant reported reason for return to work " to fill the day" was a significant predictor of earlier RTW [RR 2.41 (95% C.I 1.35-4.30)] whereas "financial security" and "because they felt able to" did not achieve significance. Conclusions: Many injury-related and psycho social factors affect the duration of time away from work following orthopaedic injury. Some of these are potentially modifiable and may be amenable to intervention. Further consideration of the reasons provided by participants for returning to work may provide important opportunities for social marketing approaches designed to alleviate the financial and social burden associated with work disability.


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