Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Am J Ind Med. 2004 Apr;45(4):338-45.

The workers' compensation system: worker friend or foe?

Author information

  • 1Social and Behavioral Sciences Department, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02118-2394, USA.



The workers' compensation system was designed to help injured workers who have substantial medical expenses and perhaps have lost a great deal of income. This study determines both similarities and differences in how workers experience their interactions with the workers' compensation systems in Florida and Wisconsin.


Ethnographic open-ended interviews with 204 workers from Florida and 198 workers in Wisconsin were conducted. All the workers had back injuries in 1990 and were either paid workers' compensation temporary disability benefits for at least 4 weeks or received permanent disability benefits or compromise settlements.


Some interactions with the workers' compensation system were positive. However, the majority of respondents in both states experienced their encounters with the workers' compensation system as cumbersome, frustrating, and demeaning.


Mistrust, stigmatization, payment delays, and refusal of insurer personnel to pay benefits contribute to workers' negative experiences with the workers' compensation system. These insurer behaviors raise the costs to injured workers of workers' compensation benefits and thus may reduce the propensity of eligible workers to apply for benefits.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Wiley
    Loading ...
    Support Center