JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Prevalence and predictors of return to work in hospitalised trauma patients during the first year after discharge: a prospective cohort study.

Injury 2012 September
OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study was to investigate the proportion of patients who return to work and predictors of return to pre-injury level of work participation the first year after trauma.

METHODS: A prospective single-centre study of 188 patients aged 18-65 years with different degrees of injury severity was carried out in a trauma referral centre. All patients were working or studying full or part time before the injury. The first assessments were performed a median time of 27 days after discharge. Participation in work/education was measured 3 and 12 months after the first assessment with self-report questionnaires. The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and Impact of Event Scale (IES) were independent measures of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTS) at baseline and 3 months. The Life Orientation Test Revised (LOT-R) measured optimism and pessimism at baseline. Predictors of return to work were identified by multiple logistic regression analysis.

RESULTS: After one year, 131 patients (70%) had returned to the same level of participation in work or education; 95 (50%) had returned at 3 months. Independent predictors of return to work after 3 months were low age, low Injury Severity Score (ISS) score, not needing ventilator treatment and low score for depression symptoms, adjusted for gender (Nagelkerke R square 0.38). Low ISS, absence of serious head injury, low HADS depression score and an optimistic life orientation remained significant predictors of return to work at the same level after 12 months (Nagelkerke R square 0.38). In addition, good physical function (SF-36 PF score>65) at 3 months was an independent predictor of return to work at 12 months in the 93 patients who had not returned to work at 3 months.

CONCLUSION: Independent predictors of return to work at 3 months were low age, low ISS and absence of depression symptoms. At 12 months, independent predictors of return to work were low ISS, low depression score and an optimistic life orientation. To promote early return to work, trauma patients might be screened for depression symptoms and pessimism, and intervention or treatment provided for those in need.

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