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Spotlight on article published in

Occupational and Environmental Medicine

IBI Spotlights call attention to important health and productivity findings from peer-reviewed work. The research described in this particular Spotlight is authored or co-authored by an IBI researcher. IBI members are encouraged to obtain the original articles from the copyright holder._

What is the Issue?

Millions of workers are injured on the job every year, and many of those injuries result in workers’ compensation claims. These claims cost businesses and workers billions of dollars each year in medical and wage-replacement benefits. Thus, injury prevention is paramount.

What are the findings/solutions?

Worker stress was the single most important factor in predicting workers’ compensation claim occurrence and cost. The research showed that the type of stress employees experience—work, home, and financial—affected claim occurrence and cost differently. Employees experiencing workplace stress were more likely to file a workers’ compensation claim. However, employees who reported stress at home filed costlier workers’ compensation claims after being injured on the job, but employees who reported stress over finances filed less costly claims. It could be that workers who experience stress over finances return to work sooner to avoid lost wages or job loss whereas workers who experience stress at home may have low social support, an important predictor of return to work. These findings support the need for employers to consider Total Worker Health strategies that reduce stressors where possible and assist employees in managing life stressors.

Journal Citation

Schwatka NV, Atherly A, Dally MJ, et al. Occup Environ Med Published Online First: [16 August 2016] doi:10.1136/oemed- 2015-103334

Objectives

The objective of this study was to examine the predictive relationships between employee health risk factors (HRFs) and workers’ compensation (WC) claim occurrence and costs.

Methods

Logistic regression and generalised linear models were used to estimate the predictive association between HRFs and claim occurrence and cost among a cohort of 16 926 employees from 314 large, medium and small businesses across multiple industries. First, unadjusted (HRFs only) models were estimated, and second, adjusted (HRFs plus demographic and work organisation variables) were estimated.

Results

Unadjusted models demonstrated that several HRFs were predictive of WC claim occurrence and cost. After adjusting for demographic and work organisation differences between employees, many of the relationships previously established did not achieve statistical significance. Stress was the only HRF to display a consistent relationship with claim occurrence, though the type of stress mattered. Stress at work was marginally predictive of a higher odds of incurring a WC claim (p<0.10). Stress at home and stress over finances were predictive of higher and lower costs of claims, respectively (p<0.05).

Conclusion

The unadjusted model results indicate that HRFs are predictive of future WC claims. However, the disparate findings between unadjusted and adjusted models indicate that future research is needed to examine the multilevel relationship between employee demographics, organisational factors, HRFs and WC claims.

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