JOURNAL ARTICLE
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A cross-sectional study of the demographic, cultural, clinical and rehabilitation associated variables predicting return to employment after disability onset in an Asian society.

OBJECTIVES: This study examined the rate of return to work, and to find demographic, clinical and functional factors associated with successful re-employment after in-patient rehabilitation.

METHODS: We performed a cross-sectional cohort study of Singaporeans aged 15 and above who underwent inpatient rehabilitation in a Singapore hospital between 2000 and 2007. Phone interviews were conducted in 2007 to 2008, via a structured questionnaire to evaluate factors of return to work.

RESULTS: Four hundred and eight patients met with the inclusion criteria, and 123 participants completed the questionnaire. Forty-five (44.7%) participants successfully returned to work with a mean time of 7 months post-discharge. Statistical significant differences were found between the "return to work" group and "non-return to work" group based on age group (p=0.04), education level (p=0.001), pre-morbid job category (0.013) and functional status (p<0.0005) as determined by Functional Independence Measure scores. Cox regression analysis controlling the period between discharge and survey indicated that higher FIM scores and higher education level predicted successful re-employment.

CONCLUSION: This result re-affirmed the importance of functional status to the success of return-to-work in Singapore. Further qualitative studies might be useful in exploring the social or environmental factors affecting return-to-work outcomes.

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