Work absence following road traffic crash in Victoria, Australia: A population-based study

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Abstract

Introduction: Road traffic crash (RTC) burden is typically reported using hospitalisations or fatalities, yet alternative measures such as work absence provide further insight into RTC impacts. This study aimed to quantify work absence due to compensable RTCs in Victoria, and to determine the characteristics associated with prolonged work absence. Methods: In Victoria, Australia, two systems provide income support whilst unable to work, among other benefits, to those injured during RTCs either at work (workers’ compensation: WC) or elsewhere (RTC compensation). Administrative data of accepted claims between July 1 2003 and June 30, 2013 were included from working age people (15–65 years) if at least one day of income support was paid. Total time (in weeks) on income support, and hence absent from work, was calculated for each person and for each predictor (age group, sex, compensation system, length of hospital stay, injury type and road user type). Cox regression was used to determine the likelihood of prolonged work absence by predictor, presented as hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals. Results: For 36,640 injured people, 1,121,863 weeks were compensated (median 10 weeks). Median work absence was shortest among those involved in a train/tram crash (2.9 weeks, HR:0.57[0.51-0.64]) and those with contusions/abrasions (3.7 weeks, HR:0.66[0.64,0.69]). Median work absence was longest among those with spinal cord injury (115.9 weeks, HR:1.56[1.26,1.92]) or severe acquired brain injury (129.6 weeks, HR:1.60[1.44,1.77]). Work absence likelihood increased with length of hospital stay. Median work absence was similar between compensation systems (WC: 10.1 weeks, RTC: 10.0 weeks) yet likelihood of greater work absence was higher in the RTC compensation system (HR:1.12[1.08,1.17]). Conclusions: Work absence is both a measureable and important metric for assessing the impact of RTC injury in those working at the time of injury. Work absence was at least ten weeks for more than half of all injured persons, reinforcing need for road safety, injury prevention, and return to work services. Furthermore, this study identified those most at risk of prolonged work absence, providing the opportunity to target specific individuals to develop strategies to reduce work absence, such as occupation-specific rehabilitation or graduated return to work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1293-1299
Number of pages7
JournalInjury
Volume50
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

Keywords

  • Motor vehicle accident
  • Motor vehicle crash
  • Road traffic crash
  • Work absence
  • Work disability
  • Workers’ compensation

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