Making a successful return to work

The UK burden of injury multicentre longitudinal study
BACKGROUND: Injuries are common and make a significant contribution to sickness absence, but little is known about problems experienced by injured people on return to work (RTW). AIM: To quantify work problems on RTW and explore predictors of such problems. Design & setting: Multicentre longitudinal study in four UK hospitals. METHOD: Prospective study of injured participants aged 16-65 years who were employed or self-employed prior to the injury and had RTW at 1 or 4 months post injury. RESULTS: At 1 month, most (59%) had only made a partial RTW. By 4 months, 80% had fully RTW. Those who had partially RTW had problems related to physical tasks (work limited for median of 25% of time at 1 month, 18% at 4 months), time management (10% at 1 month, 20% at 4 months) and output demands (10% at 1 month, 15% at 4 months). Productivity losses were significantly greater among those with partial than full RTW at 1 month (median 3.3% versus 0.9%, P<0.001) and 4 months (median 4.6% versus 1.1% P = 0.03). Moderate/severe injuries (relative risk [RR] 1.93, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.35 to 2.77) and sports injuries (RR 1.73, 95% CI = 1.12 to 2.67) were associated with significantly greater productivity losses at 1 month while pre-existing long-term illnesses (RR 2.12, 95% CI = 1.38 to 3.27) and upper limb injuries (RR 1.64, 95% CI = 1.06 to 2.53) were at 4 months. CONCLUSION: Injuries impact on successful RTW for at least 4 months. Those who have only partially RTW experience the most problems and GPs should pay particular attention to identifying work problems in this group and ways of minimising such problems.

Source : Kendrick D, Vinogradova Y, Coupland C, Christie N, Lyons RA, Towner E. Br. J. Gen. Pract. 2012; 62(595): 82-90.
http://dx.doi.org/10.3399/bjgp12X625139

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