Work-relatedness of selected chronic medical conditions and workers' compensation utilization: National health interview survey occupational health supplement data

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BackgroundAn occupational health supplement (OHS) to the 1988 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) bypassed many limitations of traditional occupational health surveillance systems, but the data collected about chronic work-related conditions have not yet been reported.MethodsWe calculated the prevalence and proportion of cases related to work for the aggregation of 13 chronic conditions included in the NHIS-OHS, and for 11 conditions individually. For each of nine conditions, and for the aggregation of all conditions, we also calculated the prevalence of workers' compensation claims filed.ResultsThe overall prevalence of work-related chronic conditions was 7.5% (SE=0.16). The work-related conditions with the highest prevalence were repeated trouble with the back/neck/spine (4.91%; SE=0.13) and trouble hearing (1.14%; SE=0.06). Overall, workers' compensation claims were filed for 39.0% (SE=1.00) of work-related cases.ConclusionsThe burden of work-related illnesses in the US is substantial, and the workers' compensation system is underutilized. Am. J. Ind. Med. 53:1252–1263, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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