Prediction of work resumption and sustainability up to 1 year after mild traumatic brain injury

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Abstract

Objective:

To study return to work (RTW) after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) at several intervals after injury and to predict RTW on the basis of occupational factors in addition to demographic, personality, and injury-related factors at 6 and 12 months after injury.

Methods:

This was a prospective cohort study (UPFRONT study, n = 1,151) of patients with mTBI admitted to the emergency department. Patients received questionnaires at 2 weeks and 3, 6, and 12 months after injury. RTW was divided into 3 levels: complete (cRTW), partial (pRTW), and no RTW.

Results:

Rates of cRTW increased from 34% at 2 weeks to 77% at 12 months after injury, pRTW varied from 8% to 16% throughout the year. Logistic regression (complete vs incomplete RTW) demonstrated that apart from previously identified predictors such as demographics (e.g., age and education) and injury characteristics (e.g., cause and severity of injury) and indicators of psychological distress, occupational factors were of influence on work resumption after 6 months (area under the curve [AUC] = 0.82), At 12 months, however, the model was based solely on the presence of extracranial injuries and indicators of maladaptation after injury (AUC = 0.81).

Conclusions:

RTW after mTBI is a gradual process, with varying levels of RTW throughout the first year after injury. Different predictors were relevant for short- vs long-term work resumption, with occupational factors influencing short-term RTW. However, for both short- and long-term RTW, posttraumatic complaints and signs of psychological distress early after injury were relevant predictors, allowing early identification of patients at risk for problematic work resumption.

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