Background : Factors affecting recovery from injury are investigated comparing male emergency department patients involved in work-related and non–work-related accidents.
Methods : This was a prospective cohort study of 154 injured employed male emergency department patients recording demographic and accident details, return to work information, and involvement in litigation. Standardized questionnaires measured psychological, physical, and social responses. Evaluations were at admission, and at 6 weeks, 6 months, and 18 months after injury.
Results : Work-related injuries were less severe than non–work-related injuries (p = 0.006), and more patients became involved in litigation (p = 0.02) and suffered symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (p = 0.04). Psychosocial symptoms increased with nonreturn to work (p < 0.05). Factors predicting return to work include injury severity, blaming others, involvement in litigation, and subsequent physical and social functioning.
Conclusion : Patients injured at work are more likely to commence litigation and develop symptoms consistent with posttraumatic stress disorder. Nonreturn to work is associated with higher psychosocial morbidity. Return to work is predicted from event and recovery period variables.