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Returning to Work After Electrical Injuries: Workers’ Perspectives and Advice to Others

Stergiou-Kita, Mary BSc OT, MSc, PhD*║††; Mansfield, Elizabeth MSc, PhD*; Bayley, Mark MD, FRCPC*#; Cassidy, J. David PhD, Dr. Med Sci†¶§§; Colantonio, Angela PhD*║¶††‡‡‡; Gomez, Manuel MD, MSc‡**††; Jeschke, Marc MD, PhD, FASC, FRSCS‡*****; Kirsh, Bonnie PhD║¶¶†††; Kristman, Vicki PhD║║; Moody, Joel MD, MPH§§§; Vartanian, Oshin PhD§

doi: 10.1097/BCR.0000000000000041
Original Articles

The objective of this study was to gain an understanding of workers’ experiences with returning to work, the challenges they experienced, and the supports they found most beneficial when returning to work after a workplace electrical injury. Thirteen semistructured qualitative telephone interviews were conducted with individuals who experienced an electrical injury at the workplace. Participants were recruited from specialized burns rehabilitation programs in Ontario, Canada. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and thematic analysis used to analyze the qualitative interviews. Data regarding workers’ demographics, injury events, and occupational categories were also gathered to characterize the sample.Participants identified three distinct categories of challenges: 1) physical, cognitive, and psychosocial impairments and their effects on their work performance; 2) feelings of guilt, blame, and responsibility for the injury; and 3) having to return to the workplace or worksite where the injury took place. The most beneficial supports identified by the injured workers included: 1) support from family, friends, and coworkers; and 2) the receipt of rehabilitation services specialized in electrical injury. The most common advice to others after electrical injuries included: 1) avoiding electrical injury; 2) feeling ready to return to work; 3) filing a Workplace Safety and Insurance Board injury/claims report;4) proactive self-advocacy; and 5) garnering the assistance of individuals who understood electrical injuries to advocate on their behalf. Immediate and persistent physical, cognitive, psychosocial, and support factors can affect individuals’ abilities to successfully return to work after an electrical injury. Specialized services and advocacy were viewed as beneficial to successful return to work.

From the *Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Toronto Western Research Institute, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Sunnybrook Research Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; §Defence Research and Development Canada, Toronto Research Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, #Department of Physiatry, **Department of Surgery, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, ††Graduate Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; ‡‡University of Toronto, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada; §§Faculty of Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense South Denmark; ║║Department of Health Sciences, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada; ¶¶Institute of Work and Health; ##Division of Human Sciences, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Lakehead University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; ***Ross Tilley Burn Centre, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; †††Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; ‡‡‡Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences; §§§Electrical Safety Authority, Ontario, Canada.

Address for correspondence: Dr. Mary Stergiou-Kita, BSc OT, MSc, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of Toronto, 160–500 University of Toronto, Room 914, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5G 1V7. Email:

© 2014 The American Burn Association