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Healthcare use before and after a workplace injury in British Columbia, Canada


Objectives: There is growing evidence that occupational injuries influence workers’ emotional and physical wellbeing, extending healthcare use beyond what is covered by the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB).

Methods: The authors used an administrative database that links individual publicly funded healthcare and WCB data for the population of British Columbia (BC), Canada. They examined change in service use, relative to one year before the injury, for workers who required time off for their injuries (lost time = LT) and compared them to other injured workers (no lost time = NLT) and individuals in the population who were not injured (non-injured = NI).

Results: LT workers increased physician visits (22%), hospital days (50%), and mental healthcare use (43% physician visits; and 70% hospital days) five years after the injury, relative to the year before the injury, at a higher rate than the NI group. For the NLT workers, the level of increased use following the injury was between that of these two groups. These patterns persisted when adjusting for registration in the BC Medical Service Plan (MSP) and several workplace characteristics.

Conclusions: Although the WCB system is the primary mechanism for processing claims and providing information about workplace injury, it is clear that the consequences of workplace injury extend beyond what is covered by the WCB into the publicly funded healthcare system.

  • BC, British Columbia
  • BCLHD, British Columbia Linked Health Dataset
  • LT, lost time injured workers
  • MSP, Medical Service Plan
  • NI, non-injured comparisons
  • NLT, no lost time injured workers
  • WCB, Workers’ Compensation Board
  • occupational injuries
  • health services use
  • mental health care

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