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Factors predicting work status 3 months after injury: results from the Prospective Outcomes of Injury Study
  1. Rebbecca Lilley1,
  2. Gabrielle Davie1,
  3. Shanthi Ameratunga2,
  4. Sarah Derrett1
  1. 1Injury Prevention Research Unit, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  2. 2Section of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rebbecca Lilley; rebbecca.lilley{at}


Objective Few studies examine predictors of work status following injury beyond injuries presenting to a hospital or emergency department. This paper examines the combined influences of socio-demographic, occupational, injury and pre-existing health and lifestyle factors as predictors of work status 3 months after hospitalised and non-hospitalised injury in a cohort of injured New Zealand workers.

Design Prospective cohort study.

Setting The Prospective Outcomes of Injury Study, New Zealand.

Participants 2626 workforce active participants were identified from the Prospective Outcomes of Injury Study; 11 participants with missing outcome responses were excluded.

Primary and secondary outcome measures The primary outcome of interest was ‘not working’ at the time of interview.

Results 720 (27%) reported ‘not working’ 3 months after injury. The most important pre-injury predictors of not working following injury found by multidimensional modelling were as follows: low or unknown income, financial insecurity, physical work tasks, temporary employment, long week schedules, obesity, perceived threat to life and hospital admission. Contrary to expectations, workers reporting less frequent exercise pre-injury had lower odds of work absence. Pre-injury psychosocial and health factors were not associated with not working.

Conclusion Certain pre-injury socio-demographic, physical work, work organisation, lifestyle and injury-related factors were associated with not working 3 months after injury. If these findings are confirmed, intervention strategies aimed at improving return to work should address multiple dimensions of both the worker and the workplace.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: and

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  • To cite: Lilley R, Davie G, Ameratunga S, et al. Factors predicting work status 3 months after injury: results from the Prospective Outcomes of Injury Study. BMJ Open 2012;2:e000400. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000400

  • Contributors RL was the lead author and is guarantor of this paper. RL and GD analysed the data. All authors contributed to the study design, interpretation of the results and the review and editing of the manuscript. All authors approved the submitted manuscript.

  • Funding This study is funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand (2007–2013) and was co-funded by the Accident Compensation Corporation, New Zealand (2007–2010) (ID 10/052). RL was supported by an Accident Compensation Corporation Early Career Post Doctoral Award (2007–2010) (ID 07/049). The views and conclusions in this paper are of the authors' and may not reflect those of the funders. The funders of this project provided funding for salary and working expenses and had no input in the study design, data collection, data analysis or interpretation with the sole exception of the Accident Compensation Corporation who provided the initial sampling list.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The ethics approval was provided by New Zealand Multiregional Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement We have a data sharing policy and would consider requests on a case by case basis.

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