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Greater psych risk for comp patients: Study


Workers compensation patients had a higher prevalence of psychosocial risk factors than private-insurance patients, and a stronger association between psychosocial risk factors and functional outcomes, according to a study released Thursday by the Workers Compensation Research Institute.

Researchers said psychosocial risk factors include poor recovery expectations after an injury, fear avoidance, poor coping, catastrophizing, and perceived injustice, and that previous studies have documented that psychosocial factors are a strong predictor of adverse outcomes in patients.

The study examined types of injuries and correlations with mental struggles, finding that one-third of lower back injury patients in the comp system scored high on psychosocial risk. The study also found that half of such patients had high levels of “fear avoidance” and “negative coping,” and 12% reported having a “negative mood.”

These psychosocial risk factors often prolong disability and return to work, especially for musculoskeletal injuries, WCRI said.

Early identification of psychosocial risk factors is recommended by occupational medical treatment and disability guidelines to mitigate the effects on claim outcomes, according to the study.