Expectations Don't Predict Recovery Time for All Injuries

Predictive only for workers filing back-injury claims, not for other musculoskeletal issues
By Beth Gilbert
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Recovery expectations appear to predict future recovery among workers filing injury claims for back pain but not for those filing claims for other musculoskeletal conditions, according to a study published in the October issue of the Journal of Spinal Disorders & Techniques.

In a prospective study, Douglas Paul Gross, Ph.D., and Michele Crites Battie, Ph.D., of the University of Alberta in Canada, evaluated 1,040 claimants receiving time-loss benefits for a musculoskeletal condition and undergoing return-to-work assessment, of whom 29 percent had back pain; 44 percent had sprains, strains, or pain of other body parts besides the back; 23 percent had specific injuries; and 5 percent had other compensable conditions.

Among claimants with back pain, the investigators found that negative work-related recovery expectations were consistently associated with slower suspension of time-loss benefits (hazard ratio, 0.83) and slower claim closure (HR, 0.84). However, associations in other diagnostic groups were inconsistent and not statistically significant. The data also revealed that associations were slightly larger among claimants with back pain of less than three months' duration.

"Recovery expectations provide some information for predicting future recovery in workers filing injury claims for back pain, but do not seem to predict recovery in claimants with other musculoskeletal conditions," the authors write.

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