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Am J Ind Med. 2013 Dec;56(12):1371-82. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22251. Epub 2013 Sep 20.

Predictors for return to work for those with occupational respiratory disease: clinical and structural factors.

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine, Occupational Health Clinical Center, State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York.



Few occupational researchers have examined "return to work" among patients with work-related respiratory diseases. In addition, prior studies have emphasized individual patient characteristics rather than a more multi-dimensional approach that includes both clinical and structural factors.


A retrospective chart review identified patients with occupational respiratory diseases in the Occupational Health Clinical Center, Syracuse, NY between 1991 and 2009. We assessed predictors of work status using an exploratory, sequential mixed methods research design, multinomial (n = 188) and Cox regressions (n = 130).


The findings suggest that patients with an increased number of diagnoses, non-union members, and those who took more than a year before clinical presentation had significantly poorer work status outcomes, after adjusting for age, education level, and relevant diagnoses.


Efforts to prevent slow return to work after developing occupational respiratory disease should recognize the importance of timely access to occupational health services, disease severity, union membership, and smoking status.

© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


occupational medicine; prognostic factors; pulmonary disease; return to work; work outcomes; work-related respiratory disease

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