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Factors Associated With Short-Term Disability Episodes

Dewa, Carolyn S. MPH, PhD; Chau, Nancy MStat; Dermer, Stanley MD, FRCP(C)

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: December 2009 - Volume 51 - Issue 12 - p 1394-1402
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181bc3f7c
Original Articles

Objective: This study examines factors associated with a mental/behavioral disorder-related short-term disability episode versus a physical disorder-related disability episode using administrative longitudinal data.

Methods: Logistic regression models were used to estimate the association between worker characteristics and different types of disability episodes.

Results: A previous disability episode is significantly associated with a current disability. Nevertheless, mental/behavioral disorders are related to higher odds of another episode. A worker with a previous disability episode related to a mental/behavioral disorder is almost 7× more likely to have another disability episode related to a mental disorder/behavioral disorder.

Conclusions: One of the critical factors associated with a disability episode is a history of a previous disability episode. Relapse is a critical factor and should be considered in the design of occupational health programs.

From the Work and Well-being Research and Evaluation Program (Dr Dewa, Ms Chau), Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Department of Psychiatry (Dr Dewa), University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and S.W. Dermer and Associates (Dr Dermer), Burlington, Ontario, Canada.

Address correspondence to: Carolyn S. Dewa, MPH, PhD, Work and Well-being Research and Evaluation Program, Health Systems Research and Consulting Unit, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 33 Russell Street, T319, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2S1, Canada; E-mail:

©2009The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine