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Int J Health Serv. 2003;33(2):253-81.

Compensation for musculoskeletal disorders in Quebec: systemic discrimination against women workers?

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  • 1Faculté de science politique et de droit, Département des sciences juridiques, Université du Quebec à Montréal, Succursale Centre Ville, Québec, Canada.


Criteria for evaluating workers' compensation claims for occupational disease are strongly linked to medical expertise as supported by scientific study, yet decision-makers are not necessarily familiar with the meaning of these studies. While this is a problem for all claimants, who bear the burden of proving that work caused their injury, the adverse impact of misunderstanding of scientific data can have particular consequences for women, whose work more often appears to be benign. This article reports on a study of empirical data drawn from analysis of 314 workers' compensation appeal tribunal decisions on compensation claims, in Quebec, for musculoskeletal disorders alleged to be related to repetitive work. The study considers randomly selected decisions rendered between 1994 and 1996 on diagnoses of tendonitis, epicondylitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome and, in a follow-up, looks at significant legal decisions by the same tribunals, rendered over a longer period (1987-96). Results indicate that women workers are significantly less likely than their male counterparts to have their occupational disease claims accepted by the appeal tribunal. Evidence suggests that inappropriate overreliance on scientific studies for adjudication purposes contributes to a greater rate of refusal of claims by women workers.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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