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Is Obesity Associated With Adverse Workers’ Compensation Claims Outcomes?

Tao, Xuguang (Grant) MD, PhD; Su, Pu-yu MD, PhD; Yuspeh, Larry BA; Lavin, Robert A. MD, MS; Kalia-Satwah, Nimisha MD, MPH, MBA; Bernacki, Edward J. MD, MPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2016 - Volume 58 - Issue 9 - p 880–884
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000834
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Background: A pilot study indicated that obesity was associated with an increased time lost from work and higher costs among workers’ compensation claimants sustaining severe, but not minor injuries.

Objective: The aim of this study was to further test the hypotheses by increasing sample size and controlling for additional confounding factors.

Method: Cost and lost time outcomes were assessed for 2301 lost time workers’ compensation claims filed in 2011 and 2012 followed to the end of the first quarter of the third postinjury year.

Result: Adjusting for gender, age, marital status, attorney involvement, and spinal procedures, the odds ratios of incurring a claim expense at least $100,000 after a severe injury for an overweight or obese versus normal weight claimant was 2.11 [95% confidence interval (95% CI): 1.04 to 4.29] and 2.23 (95% CI:1.12–4.46), respectively.

Conclusion: Obesity was associated with increased costs among workers’ compensation claimants sustaining severe, but not minor injuries.

Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland (Drs Tao, Su, Kalia-Satwah); School of Public Health, Anhui Medical University, Hefei, China (Dr Su); Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Corporation, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Mr Yuspeh); Department of Neurology, University of Maryland School of Medicine (Dr Lavin); and Dell Medical School, University of Texas at Austin, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland (Dr Bernacki).

Address correspondence to: Edward J. Bernacki, MD, MPH, University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School, Austin, TX 78701 (ed.bernacki@austin.utexas.edu).

There are no conflicts of interest or external sources of funding for this work.

Copyright © 2016 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine