Factors associated with sickness certification of injured workers by General Practitioners in Victoria, Australia
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BACKGROUND: Work-related injuries resulting in long-term sickness certification can have serious consequences for injured workers, their families, society, compensation schemes, employers and healthcare service providers. The aim of this study was to establish what factors potentially are associated with the type of sickness certification that General Practitioners (GPs) provide to injured workers following work-related injury in Victoria, Australia. METHODS: This was a retrospective population-based cohort study was conducted for compensation claims lodged by adults from 2003 to 2010. A logistic regression analysis was performed to assess the impact of various factors on the likelihood that an injured worker would receive an alternate/modified duties (ALT, n?=?28,174) vs. Unfit for work (UFW, n?=?91,726) certificate from their GP. RESULTS: A total of 119,900 claims were analysed. The majority of the injured workers were males, mostly age of 45-54 years. Nearly half of the workers (49.9 %) with UFW and 36.9 % with ALT certificates had musculoskeletal injuries. The multivariate regression analysis revealed that for most occupations older men (55-64 years) were less likely to receive an ALT certificate, (OR?=?0.86, (95%CI, 0.81 - 0.91)). Workers suffering musculoskeletal injuries or occupational diseases were nearly twice or three times at higher odds of receiving an ALT certificate when compared to fractures. Being seen by a GP experienced with workers' compensation increased the odds of receiving ALT certificate (OR?=?1.16, (95%CI, 1.11 - 1.20)). Occupation and industry types were also important factors determining the type of certificate issued to the injured worker. CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that specific groups of injured workers (i.e. older age, workers with mental health issues, in rural areas) are less likely to receive ALT certificates.
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