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J Occup Environ Med. 2001 Jun;43(6):515-25.

Doctor proactive communication, return-to-work recommendation, and duration of disability after a workers' compensation low back injury.

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  • 1Public Health Institute, Berkeley, Calif., USA.


Although doctors are increasingly evaluated on the basis of return-to-work (RTW) outcomes, the effect of doctor-patient communication about the workplace and RTW after an occupational injury has received little research attention. The effect of patient-reported doctor communication on duration of disability was examined retrospectively in a 3-year cohort of 325 claimants with a lost-time low back injury. Although doctor proactive communication was associated with a greater likelihood of RTW during the acute phase (< 30 days of disability), this effect disappeared when injury and workload characteristics were taken into account. A positive RTW recommendation was associated with about a 60% higher RTW rate during the subacute/chronic phase (> 30 days of disability) only. Prospective studies are needed to confirm this effect. The impact of physician communication on RTW is largely confounded by injury and workplace factors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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