Massachusetts among the eight states in the new study
A new study, entitled “Predictors of Worker Outcomes,” from the Cambridge-based Worker’s Compensation Research Institute, (WCRI) , finds that trust in the workplace is one of the most important and heretofore least recognized predictors of the ultimate outcome of an injured worker’s recovery.
The study, which interviewed some 3,200 injured workers across eight specific states, was organized in order to determine what indicators best predicted how an injured worker would recover. Ultimately, the goal of the study aims to improve the overall level of injured workers’ outcomes by informing public officials, payers, and health care providers about how to better treat and communicate with these workers.
“Better information about the predictors of poorer worker outcomes may allow payors and doctors to better target health care and return-to-work interventions to those most at risk,” said Dr. Richard Victor, WCRI’s executive director.
Injured workers in Massachusetts were among the eight states examined in this new study. The other seven states included are Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Workers in each of the states were questioned about the injuries they suffered in the workplace during 2010 and what workers’ compensation income benefits they received as a result of that injury. According to the WCRI, all of the surveys occurred between February and June of 2013, approximately three years after the interviewees sustained their injuries.
What the study found
Aside from the level of trust existing in an injured worker’s workplace, the following are some of the predictors that are important to the outcome of an injured worker’s outcome.
- Workers who were strongly concerned about being fired after the injury experienced poorer return-to-work outcomes than workers without those concerns.
- One in five workers who were concerned about being fired reported that they were not working at the time of the interview. This was double the rate that was observed for workers without such concerns. Among workers who were not concerned about being fired, one in ten workers was not working at the time of the interview.
- Concerns about being fired were associated with a four-week increase in the average duration of disability.
The studies also identified workers with specific comorbid medical conditions (existing simultaneously with and usually independently of another medical condition) by asking whether the worker had received treatment for hypertension, diabetes, and heart problems. The medical condition may have been present at the time of the injury or may have manifested during the recovery period. Among those findings:
- Workers with hypertension (when compared with workers without hypertension) had a 3-percentage point higher rate of not working at the time of the interview predominantly due to injury.
- Workers with heart problems reported an 8-percentage point higher rate of not working at the time of interview predominantly due to injury and had disability duration that was four weeks longer.
- Workers with diabetes had a 4-percentage point higher rate of not working at the time of the interview predominantly due to injury than workers without diabetes.
How to obtain a copy of the study
Each of the eight state-specific studies are available for purchase on the WCRI website at http://www.wcrinet.org/recent_pub.html. The cost of the Massachusetts study for WCRI Members is $15.00 and for non-member $35.00. Note that only electronic versions of the study are currently available.