Tuesday, October 28, 2014

WCRI Presents New Research on New Predictors of Worker Outcomes

On Oct. 16, 2014, the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) hosted Predictors of Worker Outcomes. The webinar addressed new research, which identifies new predictors of worker outcomes that can assist public officials, employers and healthcare providers in improving the treatment and communication injured workers receive after an injury – leading to better outcomes.

According to speakers Bogdan Savych and Vennela Thumula, of WCRI, the studies took into account many factors including age, gender, education, geological location, prior work injury, metabolic conditions and trust in the workplace, but focused on four main predictors: education, comorbidities, English proficiency and fear of being fired.

“Our objective is to bring reliable information to this arena,” Savych says. The results were derived from telephone interviews with 3,200 injured workers conducted February through June 2013 across eight states (Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin). The studies interviewed workers who suffered a workplace injury in 2010 and spent at least one week away from work.

The studies indicate that a leading predictor of worker outcomes is trust in the workplace. Until now, this issue has never been fully examined. Study participants were asked to describe the level of trust or mistrust in their work relationship including their level of concern of being fired as a result of their injury. It was discovered, workers who were strongly concerned about being fired after the injury experienced poorer return-to-work outcomes than workers without those concerns. According to Savych, a fear of being fired is an indicator that workers have not built a core relationship with their employers. Workers who failed to build that trust, on average, experienced a four-week increase in the duration of disability.

The studies also focused on workers with specific medical conditions including hypertension, diabetes and heart problems. According to Savych, participants were asked whether they had received treatment for these conditions, noting these medical conditions may have been present at the time of the injury or may have manifested during the recovery period. The study found that workers with hypertension have a slightly higher rate (3%) of not working at the time of the interview predominantly due to injury whereas workers with heart problems reported 8% higher rate of not working at the time of the interview, and experienced a longer duration of disability.

Click here for more information on these reports.