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The role of mental health problems and common psychotropic drug treatments in accidental injury at work: a case–control study
  1. Keith T Palmer,
  2. Stefania D'Angelo,
  3. E Clare Harris,
  4. Cathy Linaker,
  5. David Coggon
  1. MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Palmer, MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton SO16 6YD, UK; ktp{at}


Objectives Mental illness and psychotropic drugs have been linked with workplace injury, but few studies have measured exposures and outcomes independently or established their relative timings. To address this shortcoming, we conducted a case–control study nested within a database prospectively recording injury consultations, diagnoses and drug prescriptions.

Methods The Clinical Practice Research Datalink logs primary care data for 6% of the British population, coding all consultations (by the Read system) and drug prescriptions. We identified 1348 patients aged 16–64 years from this database who had consulted a family doctor or hospital over a 20-year period for workplace injury (cases, 479 diagnostic codes) and 6652 age, sex and practice-matched controls with no such consultation. Groups were compared in terms of consultations for mental health problems (1328 codes) and prescription of psychotropic drugs prior to the case's injury consultation using conditional logistic regression.

Results In total, 1846 (23%) subjects had at least one psychiatric consultation before the index date and 1682 (21%) had been prescribed a psychotropic drug. The OR for prior mental health consultation was 1.44 (p<0.001) and that for psychotropic drug treatment was 1.57 (p<0.001). Risks were significantly elevated for several subclasses of mental health diagnosis (eg, psychosis, neurosis) and for each of the drug classes analysed. Assuming causal relationships, about 9–10% of all workplace injuries leading to medical consultation were attributable to mental illness or psychotropic medication.

Conclusions Mental health problems and psychotropic treatments may account for an important minority of workplace injuries.

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