Why was this study done?
Little is known about how workplace injuries in young workers affect their health and work experiences in the long term. Do such injuries have a continuing effect on their vulnerability to injury, symptoms and re-injury? This study investigates these issues, looking at health-care use, beyond workers’ compensation health services or benefits, among youth with a workers’ compensation claim before and after the injury date. It then compares these findings with a sample of non-injured youth.
How was the study done?
Researchers analyzed a population-based study that merged health and workers’ compensation records by gender. They looked at 18,903 compensation claims for individuals aged 15-24 in British Columbia between 1991 and 2001 and matched them with a sample of non-injured young workers. Researchers included only short-term disability claims.
What did the researchers find?
Four distinct patterns of health-care use emerged, based on visits to general practitioners. These patterns were based on information from nine years before the injury and nine years after the injury:
Group 1: low number of visits (two per year)
Group 2: medium number of visits (four per year)
Group 3: medium-high number of visits (four to nine per year)
Group 4: high number of visits (10 to 16 per year)
All four groups showed a spike in health-care use in the year following the injury date, with the greatest increase among women. For both men and women, the initial spike was due to a musculoskeletal or injury diagnoses (fractures, sprains, etc). Health-care use remained high for those with musculoskeletal diagnoses even after the injury. In general, women had higher health-care use than men.
What are some strengths and weaknesses of the study?
This was the first population-based, longitudinal study of general health-care use among youth with a work injury. However, the results are drawn from a selected sample of participants whose health-care use could be tracked over a long time, and may not reflect the experiences of all young workers.