Cohort profile: Workers' compensation in a changing Australian labour market: The return to work (RTW) study

Christina Dimitriadis, Anthony D. Lamontagne, Rebbecca Lilley, Sheilah Hogg-Johnson, Malcolm Sim, Peter Smith

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose Workers' compensation claims for older workers and workers who have suffered psychological injury are increasing as a proportion of total claims in many jurisdictions. In the Australian state of Victoria, claims from both these groups are associated with higher than average wage replacement and healthcare expenditures. This cohort profile describes a longitudinal study which aims to investigate differences in the return to work (RTW) process for older workers compared with younger workers and claimants with musculoskeletal injuries compared with those with psychological injuries. Participants This prospective cohort study involved interviewing workers' compensation claimants at three time points. The cohort was restricted to psychological and musculoskeletal claims. Only claimants aged 18 and over were recruited, with no upper age limit. A total of 869 claimants completed the baseline interview, representing 36% of the eligible claimant population. Ninety-one per cent of participants agreed at baseline to have their survey responses linked to administrative workers' compensation data. Of the 869 claimants who participated at baseline, 632 (73%) took part in the 6-month follow-up interview, and 572 (66%) participated in the 12-month follow-up interview. Findings to date Information on different aspects of the RTW process and important factors that may impact the RTW process was collected at the three survey periods. At baseline, participants and non-participants did not differ by injury type or age group, but were more likely to be female and from the healthcare and social assistance industry. The probability of non-participation at follow-up interviews showed younger age was a statistically significant predictor of non-participation. Future plans Analysis of the longitudinal cohort will identify important factors in the RTW process and explore differences across age and injury type groups. Ongoing linkage to administrative workers' compensation data will provide information on wage replacement and healthcare service use into the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere016366
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • longitudinal
  • musculoskeletal injury
  • older workers
  • psychological injury
  • return to work

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