Identifying predictors of return to work and the duration of time off work in first responders affected with musculoskeletal injuries or mental health issues
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PURPOSE: To identify predictors of return to work, duration of time off work, and claim closure for first responders experiencing injuries or illnesses, and summarize the claim data. METHODS: First responder claims collected between January 2012 and July 2017 were obtained from a disability management company. Known predictors of return to work were extracted from the data including age, sex, diagnosis, years of service, claim lag, medical report lag, and the return-to-work duties. Survival analyses were performed to identify predictors of return to work and claim closure using the Cox proportional regression analysis. Log-rank tests were performed to identify predictors that affected the rate of return to work and claim closure. Summary statistics were performed for the injury and return-to-work data. RESULTS: 60 of the 67 (89.6%) identified first responders returned to work within the data collection period. Musculoskeletal injuries predicted an increased likelihood of returning to work (hazard ratio = 2.0, 95%CI = 1.14-3.60) and a shorter duration of time off work (37 days on average) compared to mental health issues. Everyday of claim lag and medical report lag predicted a 2% decrease in likelihood of return to work. Returning to work was the only predictor of claim closure. 45 (67.2%) first responders returned to their pre-absence duties. 22 (32.8%) mental health claims and 45 (67.2%) injury claims were identified. CONCLUSIONS: 89.6% of first responders returned to work, although only 67.2% returned to their pre-absence duties. Predictors of return to work included injury type, as first responders with musculoskeletal injuries returned to work sooner, and claim and medical lag delayed the return to work.
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