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The Relationship Between Chronic Conditions and Work-Related Injuries and Repetitive Strain Injuries in Canada

Smith, Peter PhD, MPH; Bielecky, Amber MSc; Mustard, Cameron ScD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: July 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 7 - p 841–846
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31824e11f7
Original Articles

Objective: To examine the relationships between arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and back problems, and the risk of work-related injuries (WRIs) and work-related repetitive strain injuries (RSIs).

Methods: Using data from the 2003 and 2005 Canadian Community Health Surveys (n = 79,114), we examined the relationship between each chronic condition and WRIs and RSIs, adjusting for various demographic and work-related variables that may confound this relationship.

Results: Statistically elevated risks were observed for arthritis and back problems for both WRIs and RSIs among both men and women. Diabetes was also associated with a statistically elevated risk of RSIs among women.

Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions, in particular arthritis, back problems, and diabetes, will have important implications for the prevention of workplace injuries.

From the Institute for Work & Health (Drs Smith and Mustard, and Ms Bielecky), and Dalla Lana School of Public Health (Drs Smith and Mustard), University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (Dr Smith), Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Address correspondence to: Peter Smith, PhD, MPH, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, The Alfred Centre, Commercial Road, Melbourne, Victoria, 3004, Australia (

This study was supported by a grant from WorkSafeBC (RS2009-OG03). Peter Smith is supported by a New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

©2012The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine