Predictors of Employment Outcomes in Veterans With Traumatic Brain Injury: A VA Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems Study

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Abstract

Objectives:

To examine the length of time to return to work (RTW) among service members and veterans (SM/V) with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and to identify variables predictive of RTW.

Setting:

Department of Veterans Affairs Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers (VA PRC).

Participants:

SM/V enrolled in the VA PRC Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems database who were of 18 to 60 years of age and admitted with the diagnosis of TBI.

Design:

Prospective observational cohort study.

Main Outcome Measures:

Employment status at 1-year postinjury follow-up; Time to Employment (ie, number of days it took to RTW) as documented during 1-year postinjury follow-up.

Results:

The final sample (n = 293) included male (96%) SM/V with severe TBI (69%). Approximately 21% of the sample participants were employed at 1 year postinjury. Younger individuals who self-identified as nonminority returned to work sooner. Significant associations were observed for time to employment for cause of injury and injury severity.

Conclusions:

Few SM/V with moderate to severe TBI returned to work at 1 year postinjury. Predictors such as younger age at the time of injury, minority status, and severity of TBI affected time to and probability of RTW. Findings from this study have important implications for rehabilitation planning and service delivery across the continuum of recovery.

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