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Work injuries and illnesses in older workers: A comparative study

Glenn S. Pransky, MD, MPH, Liberty Mutual Center for Disability Research, 71 Frankland Road, Hopkinton, MA 01748, 508 497 0234, glenn.pransky@libertymutual.com and Katy L. Benjamin, PhD, Department of Family Medicine, Occupational Health Program, University of Massachusetts, NOTE: 3 Olde Connecticut Path, Westborough, MA 01581.

Accurate information on the consequences of work-related injuries in older workers is essential to guide public policy and to develop interventions which can meet the challenges of this rapidly-increasing workforce segment. 3000 New Hampshire workers over age 55 along with a comparable control group of younger workers were identified soon after a reported occupational injury, and asked to respond to a confidential survey. Older workers reported higher pre-injury job satisfaction, but more chronic health problems, more severe injuries, and required surgery for the injury more frequently. However, they were more satisfied with their medical care and their doctor’s RTW recommendations, and had significantly fewer job-related problems on returning to work. Functional and work outcomes were similar for both groups, although return to work was slightly slower for older workers, and younger workers had more residual pain and post-injury financial problems as a consequence of the injury. In multivariate models, the association with age and various post-work injury outcomes was either not significant or protective. We conclude that age-related effects on employment and work ability are complex and variable, resulting in few age-specific differences after a work injury. Stronger workplace and provider relationships, the healthy worker effect and more staisfaction with medical care and with the workplace post-injury responses positively influence outcomes in older workers with work injuries.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to

Keywords: Aging, Occupational Injury and Death

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Work and the Laborforce in an Aging Society

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA