Health Care Provider Communication and the Duration of Time Loss among Injured Workers: A Prospective Cohort Study

Tyler J. Lane, Rebbecca Lilley, Oliver Black, Malcolm R. Sim, Peter M. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background:In addition to providing injured workers with biomedical treatment, health care providers (HCPs) can promote return to work (RTW) through various communications.

Objectives:To test the effect of several types of HCP communications on time loss following injury.

Research Design:The authors analyzed survey and administrative claims data from a total of 730 injured workers in Victoria, Australia. Survey responses were collected around 5 months postinjury and provided data on HCP communication and confounders. Administrative claim records provided data on compensated time loss postsurvey. The authors conducted multivariate zero-inflated Poisson regressions to determine both the odds of having future time loss and its duration.

Measures:Types of HCP communications included providing an estimated RTW date, discussing types of activities the injured worker could do or ways to prevent a recurrence, and contacting other RTW stakeholders. Each was measured in isolation as well as modified by a low-stress experience with the HCP. Time loss was the count of cumulative compensated work absence in weeks, accrued postsurvey.

Results: RTW dates reduced the odds of future time loss [odds ratio, 0.26; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.09-0.82] regardless of the stressfulness of the experience. Communications that predicted shorter durations of time loss only did so with low-stress experiences: RTW date [incidence rate ratio (IRR), 0.56; 95% CI, 0.50-0.63], stakeholder contact (IRR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.70-0.87), and prevention discussions (IRR, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.78-0.98).

Conclusions: HCPs may reduce time loss through several types of communication, particularly when stress is minimized. RTW dates had the largest and most robust effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)718-722
Number of pages5
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • communication
  • health care provider
  • rehabilitation
  • return to work
  • workers' compensation
  • zero-inflated Poisson regression


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