Work Productivity Loss After Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2018 Feb;99(2):250-256. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2017.07.006. Epub 2017 Jul 29.


Objectives: To examine the completeness of return to work (RTW) and the degree of productivity loss in individuals who do achieve a complete RTW after mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI).

Design: Multisite prospective cohort.

Setting: Outpatient concussion clinics.

Participants: Patients (N=79; mean age, 41.5y; 55.7% women) who sustained an MTBI and were employed at the time of the injury. Participants were enrolled at their first clinic visit and assessed by telephone 6 to 8 months postinjury.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: Structured interview of RTW status, British Columbia Postconcussion Symptom Inventory (BC-PSI), Lam Employment Absence and Productivity Scale (LEAPS), Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview, and brief pain questionnaire. Participants who endorsed symptoms from ≥3 categories with at least moderate severity on the BC-PSI were considered to meet International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision criteria for postconcussional syndrome. RTW status was classified as complete if participants returned to their preinjury job with the same hours and responsibilities or to a new job that was at least as demanding.

Results: Of the 46 patients (58.2%) who achieved an RTW, 33 (71.7%) had a complete RTW. Participants with complete RTW had high rates of postconcussional syndrome (44.5%) and comorbid depression (18.2%), anxiety disorder (24.2%), and bodily pain (30.3%). They also reported productivity loss on the LEAPS, such as "getting less work done" (60.6%) and "making more mistakes" (42.4%). In a regression model, productivity loss was predicted by the presence of postconcussional syndrome and a comorbid psychiatric condition, but not bodily pain.

Conclusions: Even in patients who RTW after MTBI, detailed assessment revealed underemployment and productivity loss associated with residual symptoms and psychiatric complications.

Keywords: Craniocerebral trauma; Occupational health; Post-concussion syndrome; Presenteeism; Rehabilitation; Return to work.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Concussion / rehabilitation*
  • Efficiency*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome / rehabilitation*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Return to Work*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires