Early Predictors of Occupational Back Reinjury Identified

Reinjury in 25.8 percent of those who return to work, especially if male, prior similar injury

TUESDAY, Jan. 22 (HealthDay News) -- About 25 percent of workers with back injury report reinjury after returning to work, with risk factors including male sex, previous similar injury, and having health insurance, according to a study published in the Jan. 15 issue of Spine.

Benjamin J. Keeney, Ph.D., from Dartmouth College in Lebanon, N.H., and colleagues conducted a prospective population-based cohort study to identify early predictors of self-reported occupational back reinjury within one year after index work-related injury. Data were collected for variables in seven domains (sociodemographic, employment-related, pain and function, clinical status, health care, health behavior, and psychological) from 1,123 workers in the Washington Workers' Compensation Disability Risk Identification Study Cohort with new work disability claims for back injuries.

The researchers found that occupational back reinjury was reported by 25.8 percent of participants who completed the one-year follow-up and had returned to work. In a multivariate model, baseline variables, including male sex, constant whole-body vibration at work, prior similar injury, four or more previous claims of any kind, having health insurance, and high fear-avoidance scores, correlated significantly with reinjury. Reduced odds of reinjury were seen with baseline obesity.

"Biological, psychosocial, and environmental factors may all be involved in occupational back reinjury," the authors write. "Understanding risk factors for occupational back reinjury may increase knowledge about why some workers are reinjured whereas others are not. This knowledge may lead to improved reinjury-prevention efforts by employees, employers, and providers."

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