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Predictors of subsequent injury at work: findings from a prospective cohort of injured workers in New Zealand

Abstract

Objectives People who have experienced a work-related injury can experience further work injuries over time. This study examines predictors of subsequent work-related injuries over 24 months among a cohort of injured workers.

Methods Participants were those recruited to the earlier Prospective Outcomes of Injury Study (POIS) who had a work-related injury (the ‘sentinel’ injury). Data from POIS participant interviews were combined with administrative data from the Accident Compensation Corporation (New Zealand’s no-fault universal injury insurer) and hospital discharge data. Modified Poisson regression modelling was used to examine whether presentinel injury sociodemographic and health, sentinel injury or presentinel injury work-related factors predicted subsequent work-related injuries.

Results Over a third of participants (37%) had at least one subsequent work-related injury in 24 months. Factors associated with an increased risk of work-related subsequent injury included being in a job involving carrying or moving heavy loads more than half the time compared with those in jobs that never involved such tasks (RR 1.42, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.01), having an inadequate household income compared with those with an adequate household income (RR 1.33, 95% CI 1.02 1.74) and being aged 50–64 years compared with those aged 30–49 years (RR 1.25, 95% 1.00 to 1.57).

Conclusion Subsequent work-related injuries occur frequently, and presenting with a work-related injury indicates a potentially important intervention point for subsequent injury prevention. While the strength of associations were not strong, factors identified in this study that showed an increased risk of subsequent work-related injuries may provide a useful focus for injury prevention or rehabilitation attention.

  • epidemiology
  • injury
  • longitudinal studies

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