The course of work absenteeism involving neck pain. A cohort study of Ontario lost-time claimants

Publication type
Journal article
Van Eerd D, Cote P, Kristman VL, Rezai M, Hogg-Johnson S, Vidmar M, Beaton DE
Date published
2011 Dec 25
Open Access?

ABSTRACT: Study Design: Cohort study.Objective: To describe the course of lost-time claims involving neck pain in workers compensated by the Ontario Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB).Summary of background data: The prevalence of neck pain in workers varies from 27.1% to 47.8%. Very little is known about the course of work absenteeism related to neck pain.Methods: Our cohort included 5,761 injured workers with an incident lost-time claim to the WSIB in 1997 and 1998. Claimants were followed for two years. We measured the cumulative time on lost-time benefits using the Kaplan-Meier method and described the number and duration of episodes on benefits.Results: The median cumulative time-on-benefits for the cohort was 13 days (95% CI: 13 - 14). The cumulative time on benefits was shorter for men than women and for younger than older workers. 14.2% of claimants experienced multiple episodes of work absenteeism during the two years following the initial claim. The median time on benefits for claimants with a single episode was 11 days (95% CI: 10 - 11). The median length of the first episode on benefits was longer for claimants with multiple episodes (19 to 22 days) compared to those with a single episode (11 days). Age was positively associated with longer time-on-benefits in claimants with a single episode of work absenteeism.Conclusions: Most injured workers who make a workers' compensation claim that involves neck pain do not make a second claim in the subsequent two years. However, an important minority (14.2%) experience multiple episodes of work absenteeism and these workers accrue 40.4% of all lost-time days. Recurrent claims involving neck pain represent a significant burden of disability in Ontario