Injured workers more likely to stay depressed if symptoms don’t improve after 6 months: Study

Symptoms worsened after a year for one in 10 workers

Poor mental health six months after an injury in the workplace indicates it will persist at the 12-month mark, finds a study by the Institute for Work and Health.

Fifteen per cent of the workers surveyed reported consistent high levels of depressive symptoms.

Most workers who have not experienced depressive symptoms prior to the work injury stabilize at the six-month mark, said Nancy Carnide, author of the followup study in the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation.

Of those workers with high levels of depressive symptoms early on, half will again report high levels at six months; of that half, seven in 10 will continue to experience depressive symptoms 12 months after the injury.

In comparison, most people who start out with low levels of depressive symptoms will continue to have low levels by the six-month and 12-month marks.

Only one in 10 workers said their symptoms worsened at the 12-month mark.

To conduct the study, the research team recruited people who had made a lost-time claim for a work-related musculoskeletal injury with Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board from 2005 to 2007.

Eligible participants had to be off work at least five days,though many were off for longer.

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