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Surveillance of mesothelioma and workers' compensation in British Columbia, Canada
  1. Tracy L Kirkham1,
  2. Mieke W Koehoorn1,2,3,
  3. Christopher B McLeod2,3,
  4. Paul A Demers1,2
  1. 1School of Environmental Health, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  2. 2School of Population and Public Health, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  3. 3Centre for Health Services and Policy Research, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mieke W Koehoorn, School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia (Rm 289) 2206 East Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3, Canada; mieke{at}


Objectives To determine the rate of workers' compensation for mesothelioma cases in the Canadian province of British Columbia, examine trends in mesothelioma cases and compensation over time, and identify factors associated with compensation status for mesothelioma cases.

Methods Mesothelioma cases in the provincial cancer registry were linked at the individual level with accepted claims for mesothelioma in the provincial workers' compensation system for the period 1970–2005.

Results 391 of the 485 workers' compensated claims were linked (81% match rate) with a record in the cancer registry for an overall mesothelioma compensation rate of 33% over the study period and a high of 49% in the last 5 years. Compensation rates were lower for women, older (retired) as well as younger workers, and sites other than the pleura.

Conclusions Although the workers' compensation rate for mesothelioma increased over time, the rate was much lower than anticipated for cases believed to be work-related cancers. Several key factors may significantly influence awareness by clinicians and workers of the work-relatedness of mesothelioma and of workers' compensation benefits. Regulatory agencies need to develop policies or effective notification systems to ensure that all newly diagnosed mesothelioma cases seek compensation benefits.

  • Mesothelioma
  • occupational diseases
  • population surveillance
  • workers'
  • compensation
  • health surveillance

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  • Funding This research was funded by WorkSafeBC (the Workers' Compensation Board of British Columbia) through the WorkSafeBC-CHSPR Research Partnership. Dr Koehoorn was supported in part by a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Senior Scholar Award. Tracy Kirkham was supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research—Institute of Population and Public Health/Public Health Agency of Canada Doctoral Research Award and a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research/WorkSafeBC Senior Trainee Award.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was granted by the Behavioural Research Ethics Board at the University of British Columbia (certificate number B04-0626).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.