Distribution and determinants of health and work status in a comprehensive population of injury patients

J Trauma. 2004 Jan;56(1):150-61. doi: 10.1097/01.TA.0000062969.65847.8B.


Background: Insight into the distribution and determinants of both short- and long-term disability can be used to prioritize the development of prevention policies and to improve trauma care. We report on a large follow-up study in a comprehensive population of injury patients.

Methods: We fielded a postal questionnaire in a stratified sample of 4,639 nonhospitalized and hospitalized injury patients aged 15 years and older, at 2, 5, and 9 months after injury. We gathered sociodemographic information, data on functional outcome with a generic instrument for health status measurement (EuroQol EQ-5D+) and data on work absence.

Results: The response rates were 39%, 75%, and 68% after 2, 5, and 9 months, respectively. The reported data were adjusted for response bias and stratification. The 2-month health status of nonhospitalized patients was comparable to the general population's health when measured by the EQ-5D summary score, although considerable prevalence of restrictions in usual activities (24.0%) and pain and discomfort (34.8%) were reported. Hospitalized patients reported higher prevalences of disability in all health domains. Their mean EQ-5D summary score increased from 0.62 at 2 months to 0.74 at 5 months but remained below the population norm at 9 months, particularly for patients with a long hospital stay. Patients with injuries of the spinal cord and vertebral column, hip fracture, and other lower extremity fractures reported the worst health status, also when adjusted for age, sex, and educational level. Age, sex, type of injury, length of stay, educational level, motor vehicle injury, medical operation, intensive care unit admission, and number of injuries were all significant predictors of functioning. Nonhospitalized and hospitalized injury patients lost on average 5.2 and 72.1 work days, respectively. Of nonhospitalized patients, 5% had not yet returned to work after 2 months, and 39%, 20%, and 10% of hospitalized patients had not yet returned to work after 2, 5, and 9 months, respectively. In a multivariate regression analysis, length of stay, type of injury, level of education, and intensive care unit admission appeared to be significant predictors of absence duration and return to work.

Conclusion: Injury is a major source of disease burden and work absence. Both hospitalized and nonhospitalized patients contribute significantly to this burden.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*