Cannabis use and long-term recovery and return-to-work outcomes among Ontario injured workers

Reasons for the study

Interest is growing in the role of medical cannabis for the treatment of work-related injuries and illnesses. However, little is known about how workers with work-related conditions use cannabis and how their use may relate to their recovery and return to work.

In this study, workers’ compensation claimants who participated in the Ontario Life After Work Injury Study (OLAWIS) are being interviewed again 18 months after their first interview (i.e. about three years after filing their workers' compensation claim). The aim is to better understand their experiences with using cannabis for their work-related condition, as well as their experiences seeking medical authorization and workers' compensation reimbursement for this use. More in-depth interviews with select workers from the larger sample will provide important context to these issues.

Objectives of the study

  • Describe condition-related cannabis use patterns, changes in use from 18 months to 36 months post-claim, and the factors considered by workers when deciding whether to use cannabis for their work-related condition
  • Describe patterns of medical authorization and workers’ compensation reimbursement for condition-related use of cannabis and the factors considered by workers when deciding whether to request medical authorization and reimbursement
  • Evaluate the cross-sectional and longitudinal association between condition-related use of cannabis and recovery and return-to-work outcomes

Anticipated results/impact

This project will provide information to health-care providers, injured worker advocates and workers’ compensation authorities to help inform programs, policies and practices around cannabis use among injured an ill workers in Ontario, including an identification of the worker subgroups most likely to benefit from guidance around use.

Project status

Ongoing

Research team

  • Nancy Carnide, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
  • Peter Smith, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
  • Andrea Furlan, Institute for Work & Health
  • Sara Macdonald, Institute for Work & Health
  • Shawna Meister, Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
  • Cameron Mustard, Institute for Work & Health
  • Stephanie Premji, McMaster University
  • Colette Severin, Institute for Work & Health
  • Tiffany Turnbull, Workplace Safety & Insurance Board

Participating organizations

Canadian Injured Workers Alliance
Gratton Consulting
Injured Workers Community Legal Clinic
Prevention Link (Ontario Federation of Labour)
Workplace Safety & Insurance Board
Workplace Safety & Prevention Services

Funded by

Canadian Institutes of Health Research