Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2010;36(4):332-338    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.2901

Sociodemographic, clinical, and work characteristics associated with return-to-work outcomes following surgery for work-related knee injury

by Fan JK, McLeod CB, Koehoorn M

Objective This study examined the association between return-to-work (RTW) outcomes and sociodemographic, clinical, and work characteristics among a cohort of injured workers who underwent knee surgery between 2001–2005 in British Columbia, Canada.

Methods Workers’ compensation databases were used to identify the retrospective cohort and abstract the study variables. Multinomial logistic regression provided odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for the association between RTW (unspecified, partial, full, or non-RTW) and the independent variables.

Results Data was abstracted for 1394 injured workers. Compared to men, women were more likely to have partial RTW (OR 2.55, 95% CI 1.53–4.23) and non-RTW (OR 2.61, 95% CI 1.35–5.03) than full RTW; low income earners were more likely than high income earners to have partial RTW (OR 3.05, 95% CI 1.86–4.99) and non-RTW (OR 4.07, 95% CI 2.19–7.57). Moreover, workers in trade, primary resource, and processing/manufacturing occupations were more likely than those in management occupations to have non-RTW than full RTW by the end of follow-up (OR 2.97, 95% CI 1.32–6.68; OR 9.31, 95% CI 3.41–25.41, and OR 2.71, 95% CI 1.07–6.5, respectively). Surgical and clinical factors were not associated with RTW outcomes.

Conclusions Using population-based data, our study found a link between sociodemographic and work characteristics and the type of RTW outcome following knee surgery for a work-related injury. Women and lower income earners tended not to have full RTW, after controlling for covariates. Workers in physically demanding occupations also tended not to have full RTW, suggesting that factors beyond clinical and surgical characteristics influence disability outcomes. RTW programs need to take into consideration these broader determinants of worker health.

This article refers to the following texts of the Journal: 2008;34(2):158-164  2008;34(6):430-437