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Psychosocial Characteristics Predict Work-Injury Outcomes

Survey shows that baseline measures predict amount of one-year pain intensity and disability

MONDAY, May 8 (HealthDay News) -- A patient's psychosocial characteristics assessed soon after submission of a workers' compensation back injury claim can help predict pain and physical disability one year later, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Pain Society in San Antonio, Texas.

Judy Turner, Ph.D., of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues interviewed workers at a median of 21 days after they submitted a Washington State workers' compensation claim for a disabling back injury. The researchers completed a one-year follow-up telephone interview with 1,333 study participants who received wage-loss compensation. Overall, 67 percent of subjects were men and their mean age was 40.

After controlling for a number of factors including demographics and physical disability, they found that baseline measures of recovery expectations, catastrophizing and mental health were each associated with pain intensity at one year, as well as the Roland physical disability scores. Baseline fear-avoidance was not significantly associated with one-year pain or disability.

"Baseline pain and Roland scores were strong predictors of pain and disability one year later, suggesting that screening workers with these measures early after a low back injury might assist in allocating appropriate clinical resources to at-risk workers," the authors conclude.


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