The Association Between Fault Attribution and Work Participation After Road Traffic Injury: A Registry-Based Observational Study

Georgina Lau, Belinda J. Gabbe, Alex Collie, Jennie Ponsford, Shanthi Ameratunga, Peter A. Cameron, James E. Harrison, Melita J. Giummarra

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose To characterise associations between fault attribution and work participation and capacity after road traffic injury. Methods People aged 15–65 years, working pre-injury, without serious brain injury, who survived to 12 months after road traffic injury were included from two Victorian trauma registries (n = 2942). Fault profiles from linked compensation claims were defined as no other at fault, another at fault, denied another at fault, claimed another at fault, and unknown. Claimant reports in the denied and claimed another at fault groups contradicted police reports. Patients reported work capacity (Glasgow outcome scale-extended) and return to work (RTW) at 6, 12 and 24 months post-injury (early and sustained RTW, delayed RTW (≥ 12 months), failed RTW attempts, no RTW attempts). Analyses adjusted for demographic, clinical and injury covariates. Results The risk of not returning to work was higher if another was at fault [adjusted relative risk ratio (aRRR) = 1.67, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.29, 2.17] or was claimed to be at fault (aRRR = 1.58, 95% CI 1.04, 2.41), and lower for those who denied that another was at fault (aRRR = 0.51, 95% CI 0.29, 0.91), compared to cases with no other at fault. Similarly, people had higher odds of work capacity limitations if another was at fault (12m: AOR = 1.49, 95% CI 1.24, 1.80; 24m: 1.63, 95% CI 1.35, 1.97) or was claimed to be at fault (12m: AOR = 1.54, 95% CI 1.16, 2.05; 24m: AOR = 1.80, 95% CI 1.34, 2.41), and lower odds if they denied another was at fault (6m: AOR = 0.67, 95% CI 0.48, 0.95), compared to cases with no other at fault. Conclusion Targeted interventions are needed to support work participation in people at risk of poor RTW post-injury. While interventions targeting fault and justice-related attributions are currently lacking, these may be beneficial for people who believe that another caused their injury. Graphic Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-254
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Accidents
  • Injury
  • Recovery
  • Return to work
  • Traffic
  • Trauma

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