UBC CENTRE FOR HEALTH SERVICES AND RESEARCH POLICY RESEARCH BRIEFS Return-to-work outcomes following surgery for work- related knee injury The effect of sociodemographic and work factors Key Messages Based on research presented in • Musculoskeletal injuries are common, Fan JK, McLeod CG, Koehoorn M. Sociodemographic, troublesome, and costly, and can result in clinical, and work characteristics associated with return- significant time loss from work and health care to-work outcomes following surgery for work-related costs. • This study showed that women, workers of low knee injury. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment socio-economic status, and those in physically and Health. 2010;36(4):332–338. demanding jobs are less likely to experience full return-to-work after knee surgery following an occupational injury. • Sociodemographic and work characteristics Return to work after surgery influence disability outcomes, so they should be A number of previous studies have examined factors that considered as determinants of worker health in influence the RTW trajectory following musculoskeletal return-to-work programs and policies. injury. Demographic, work, social, and clinical factors have been shown to influence injured workers’ RTW out- Musculoskeletal injuries and worker health comes. Few studies have looked specifically at outcomes Although the rate of work-related injuries in Canada has related to knee surgery. decreased in the past decade, musculoskeletal injuries re- main a serious, and costly, problem for workers and for Previous studies have used a range of measures to define the healthcare system. Conditions affecting the muscu- RTW. Most studies have focused on measures such as loskeletal system can be chronic and recurrent, and often time to RTW or compensation costs, while only a few This document is protected by copyright. result in long-term disability and increased demands on have investigated types of RTW such as return to full or It may be distributed the healthcare system. In British Columbia, musculosk- partial duties. Since the type of RTW can have a major for educational and eletal injuries accounted for almost 60% of all lost-time impact on a variety of stakeholders (including workers, non-commercial use claims and disability days and costs. Of all work injuries employers, and compensation boards), it is useful to con- provided the UBC Cen- requiring surgery, procedures involving the knee me- sider a range of RTW trajectories. tre for Health Services niscus have remained the most common in BC. This and Policy Research is study examined the association between return-to-work credited. (RTW) outcomes and sociodemographic, clinical, and Continued » work characteristics among a group of injured workers The work was sup- who underwent knee surgery. ported by the CHSPR- WorkSafeBC Partner- ship, WorkSafeBC, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. C H S P R .U B C .C A Advancing world-class health services and policy research, training and data resources on issues that matter to Canadians. UBC CENTRE FOR HE A LTH S E RV I C E S A N D P O L I C Y R E S E A R C H R E S E ARCH BRIEFS Defining a range of return-to-work outcomes Workers in physically demanding jobs were less likely to have full The objective of this study was to identify the sociodemographic, return-to-work. When compared to workers in management and clinical, and work factors related to RTW outcomes following sur- professional occupations, healthcare workers were more likely to gery for an accepted workers’ compensation claim for a knee injury. have partial RTW compared to full RTW. Workers in the trades, The study examined four categories of RTW outcomes: partial, full, in primary industry, and in processing/manufacturing were more unspecified, or non-RTW (unspecified RTW was defined when likely to have non-RTW compared to full RTW. Other studies ex- a RTW date was found, but the study team could not definitively amining RTW outcomes among different types of jobs have not assess it as partial or full). The study examined health data on 1394 shown a consistent relationship between physically demanding oc- workers who underwent meniscal knee surgery between 2001- cupations and RTW outcomes. 2005. Implications What influences return-to-work outcomes? The results of our study show that clinical and surgical character- Although 86% of workers in this study did return to work follow- istics are not the only factors that influence disability outcomes. ing knee surgery, a number of factors influenced RTW status. The Gender, income level, and type of occupation may also be impor- analysis showed that workers with lower annual incomes are more tant factors. Thus, return-to-work programs should consider these likely to experience partial, unspecified or non-RTW outcomes. broader determinants of health. This may enable injured workers This finding is consistent with other studies that have also shown to safely return to work in a more timely manner. an inverse relationship between income and work disability. The analysis also found that women were more likely to have partial or non-RTW compared to full RTW, and that they took approxi- mately 2.5 weeks longer to return to work than men. Other stud- ies examining the association between gender and RTW have not found a consistent trend. C HS P R .U B C .C A Advancing world-class health services and policy research, training and data resources on issues that matter to Canadians.