Duration of Work Disability: A Comparison of Self-Report and Administrative Data


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Abstract

BackgroundStudies have used insurer-reported compensable days absent as an outcome measure when studying work-related injury or illness. Compared to self-reported days absent, insurer data are less expensive to collect. Previous work has identified that insurerclaims data consistently underestimate the duration of days absent when compared to selfreport. The objective of this study was to examine the agreement between the number of self-reported days absent from work following a compensable work-related injury and the number of insurer-reported compensation days paid, and to examine factors associated with the magnitude of the discrepancy between the number of self-reported days absent and the number of insurer-reported compensated days paid.MethodsOne hundred sixty six respondents who experienced a work-related injury were interviewed approximately 200 days post-injury to assess the number of days absent from work. The number of days compensated by the insurer was compared to self-report using descriptive statistics and linear regression.ResultsRespondents who had yet to experience a return-to-work (RTW) had the largest median discrepancy followed by respondents with an unsustained RTW and finally sustained RTW. Respondents with upper extremity injuries, lower education, and lower RTW self-efficacy showed greater discrepancy between self-reported and compensated days absent. Among respondents who self-reported fewer days absent than insurercompensated days absent an inverse relationship between firm size and discrepancy was noted.ConclusionsResearchers should be aware of the discrepancies between self-reported and compensated days absent. Future studies planning to incorporate days absent as an outcome variable should carefully consider what measure would be more appropriate and potentially collect both self-report and administrative data to assess the discrepancy.

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