Factors Affecting Employment After Burn Injury in the United States: A Burn Model System National Database Investigation

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2020 Jan;101(1S):S71-S85. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2019.09.009. Epub 2019 Oct 15.


Objective: To investigate the effect of patient and injury characteristics on employment for working-age, adult survivors of burn injury using the multicenter Burn Model System national database.

Design: Longitudinal survey.

Setting: Multicenter regional burn centers.

Participants: Adult burn survivors (N=967) age≥18 years with known employment status prior to injury were included in the analysis at 12 months after injury.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: Employment status at 12 months after injury.

Results: The analyses determined that those employed preinjury had higher odds of being employed (odds ratio [OR]=8.1; 95% confidence interval [CI], 4.9-13.1). White, non-Hispanic individuals were also more likely to be employed (OR=1.49; 95% CI, 1.0-2.1). Older individuals, females, those with longer hospitalizations, amputation during the acute hospitalization, and those with high pain interference at hospital discharge had lower odds of working after injury. Preinjury living situation, preinjury alcohol and drug misuse, number of acute operations and burn size (total body surface area, %) were not significant predictors of employment status at 12 months after burn injury.

Conclusion: Preinjury employment remains the most significant predictor for postburn employment. Although past reports have focused on predictors for postburn employment, we believe that we need to seek greater understanding of modifiable risk factors for unemployment and examine issues related to work retention, performance, accommodations, and career trajectories for the working-age survivor of burn injury.

Keywords: Burns; Employment; Rehabilitation; Return to work; Vocational rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Burns / rehabilitation*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patient Discharge
  • Return to Work / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Time Factors
  • United States
  • Young Adult