Biering-Sørensen, Sarah2; Møller, Anne1; Stoltenberg, Christian D G2; Holm, Jonas3; Skov, Peder G2
1 The research unit for general practice, The Capital Region of Denmark2 unknown3 Studienævnet for Statskundskab og Samfundsfag
a three-year follow-up study in a Danish cohort of long-term sickness absentees
BACKGROUND: The chronic course of whiplash-associated disorder (WAD) has implications for both the individual and society. It has been shown that up to 50% of patients have not yet returned to work six months after a whiplash injury. We wanted to study the return-to-work (RTW) process in individuals sick-listed for more than eight weeks in six Danish municipalities. RTW in individuals sick-listed due to WAD was compared to that in those sick-listed for other musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). METHODS: Information about long-term sick-listed individuals in six Danish municipalities was retrieved from an existing database. Data on public transfer income were collected and the RTW process was followed on a weekly basis. Multivariate logistic regression analysis of RTW was done four times during the first three years after the start of sick-listing. RESULTS: One hundred and four individuals were sick-listed due to WAD and 3,204 individuals were sick-listed due to other MSDs. After 6 months, the RTW was significantly lower in the WAD group. OR for RTW in the WAD group was 0.29 (0.18-0.49) compared to the MSD group. The RTW process for both groups stabilised after two years of follow-up; 44% returned to work in the WAD group as compared to 58% in the MSD group. CONCLUSION: Sick-listed individuals with whiplash-associated disorder are less likely to return to work than individuals who are sick-listed because of other musculoskeletal disorders. In both groups, RTW stabilised after two years of follow-up.