Indirect impact of workplace injuries and depression underestimated


A fairly recent (US) study of about 368,000 workers has found that injured workers are 43% more likely to be treated for depression than their non-injured counterparts.

Indirect impact of workplace injuries and depression underestimated

Incidence and Cost of Depression After Occupational Injury

By Asfaw, Abay PhD; Souza, Kerry PhD
Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine:
September 2012 – Volume 54 – Issue 9 – p 1086–1091

In their study ‘Incidence and Cost of Depression After Occupational Injury‘, US researchers say the indirect effects of occupational injuries, such as the impact on a worker’s family life or mental health, are difficult to quantify and often excluded from economic assessments.

“This underestimates the true costs of occupational injuries or illnesses,” the researchers say.

Information for the study, which covers a three-month period in 2005, was sourced from a Thomson Reuters MarketScan containing extensive workers data from 16 large employers.

Workers who were treated for depression up to 3 months prior to the period were excluded from the study.

Of the 367,881 workers who qualified, some 6513 were injured and claimed workers’ compensation benefits in 2005. Nearly 3870 had an “outpatient visit” for depression within the study period.

injured-workers-and-depression2The researchers found 1.49 per cent of injured workers – compared to 1.04 per cent of non-injured workers – had an outpatient visit for depression.

“This implies that the likelihood of injured workers suffering from depression within the study period was 43 % higher than that of non-injured workers”

The researchers then calculated the “unconditional average cost” of outpatient depression treatment, and found it was 63 % higher for injured workers than non-injured workers.

The researchers also found depression problems increased in workers up to the age of 31 to 40, and declined among older workers. Some 1.5 % of women were treated for depression within the study period, compared with only 0.7 per cent of men.

“Although women, whether injured or uninjured, were more likely to be treated for outpatient depression, the relative effect of occupational injury was larger on men”.

“In other words, although fewer men were treated for post-injury depression, the before- and after-injury increase was larger for men.

“One hypothesis explaining this result is that men are more deeply affected by occupational injuries and therefore have a higher than ‘expected’ rate of depression treatment.”

The researchers say that their study supports existing research suggesting “that occupational injury may be followed by depressive episodes”.

Needless to restate that (more) seriously injured or ill workers are really trapped in dysfunctional and adversarial workers compensation systems which sadly offer a very bleak picture of mental health. It is truly and endless Cycle of Despair, since we become trapped in a never ending cycle of neglect and abuse that works against our ability to recover.

Somewhat related article

The first year after a medium to severe workplace injury


3 Responses to “Indirect impact of workplace injuries and depression underestimated”

  1. Yep, I can relate to this… am on another “down” cycle. Again not being listened to, told there is no reason for the pain by the GP I’ve been seeing for 11 years and after listening to his going through my history left feeling like a hypochondriac… He seemed surprised when I told him I didn’t agree with a comment he made about my knees. There are imaging reports to back me up.
    He obviously doesn’t read any report that’s been sent to him, and I now feel that I have to seek a new GP that is educated in chronic pain. Just as well I’m a fighter, but sometimes wonder just how much more fight is left.
    Its good he sent me to another GP that “knows about my type of injury” (just wish he would do more than write reports.)

    • @woowoo I can understand issues with G.P mine is not the greatest keeps saying that I can do anything I put my mind too and always gives examples of a dancer who was told she couldn’t dance anymore but did. She fails to see the other 50 billion dancers that were told they couldn’t dance anymore and don’t. I too would love to find a G.P who understands long term and permanent injuries and how they impact your life, I’d settle for one that interacted with my other treating practitioners. I shudder to think of when/if it ends up in court the report or evidence she would provide!

      • @Porsche47 mine has just been asked for copy of my file, what he said was in my file makes me shudder, he has no idea what I go through as he made it quite clear at the outset that he doesn’t deal with workcover/tac…. The GP he referred me to for my injuries is past retirement age, and wont be practicing for too much longer so there’s going to be more drama’s there…
        I guess all I can do is speak to the Lawyer again….