Introduction Workers’ compensation data provide a source of information on occupational injuries and their burden on workers and the workplace. Injured workers utilise healthcare systems for treatment of their injuries and various factors may influence access to care and the ultimate outcome of the claim. Some factors may be dependent wholly, or in part, on geographical access to care and the communities in which employees live. We explored a new injury surveillance and analysis technique by coupling of geographical information systems (GIS) and workers’ compensation data.
Methods Employee addresses were geocoded using Esri Street Map to determine spatial trends. Time/distance (accessibility) to health care providers were calculated. Geographic masking maintained individual-level confidentiality. We calculated rates and comparative risk of severity and disability duration of workers’ compensation claims based on accessibility. Using a negative binomial model, we estimated rate ratios (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) as a function of claim rate. Cox proportional hazards regression assessed differences in duration of disability benefit levels based on accessibility to healthcare and estimated hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).
Results Multiple atlases of occupational injuries was constructed to visualise trends in location, industry, injury characteristics, and severity. Accessibility to healthcare, specifically specialty health care, affected risk of increased severity, claim duration, and disability.
Conclusions This innovative way of combining and visualising data may identify risk factors for occupational injury, including those that may be spatially or community-based. It may provide new strategies for proactive injury prevention or severity reduction efforts
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