Returning to work after road traffic crash

3 Dec 2019

The Facilitating return to pre-injury function team has been investigating the impact of minor to moderate injury resulting from a road traffic crash on various work outcomes.

dr elise gane
Dr Elise Gane

Dr Elise Gane, who has been leading the work, explains the motivation to conduct the research:

“In Australia, greater than 45,000 people annually are injured in a road traffic crash (RTC). This can have huge cost implications for the healthcare system, employers and individuals. In this research we were interested in the reasons why some people return to work and yet others either don’t return to work or require multiple attempts to return to the workplace. To help answer these questions we recruited participants from several major Queensland Hospitals who had been injured in a RTC. Participants completed a series of questionnaires and measures soon after their injury and then again monthly over a twelve month period.”

Preliminary results from this ongoing study suggests most individuals could return to work shortly after their crash-related minor to moderate injury. However, some participants made modifications to their work, and felt their work productivity and functioning at work was negatively affected following their injuries.

The researchers make the following suggestions based on this preliminary evidence:

  1. Return to work status is not an accurate measure of complete recovery from injuries sustained in a road traffic crash.
  2. Health care professionals are encouraged to make specific enquires about functioning at work. It is possible that patients and their employers need assistance to identify strategies for modifying work and manage symptoms at work.

The protocol for this study was recently published in the Journal of Transport and Health.

Associate Professor Venerina Johnston, Dr Esther Smits and Dr Charlotte Brakenridge from the Facilitating return to pre-injury function team collaborated on the work along with Dr Vinay Gangathimmaiah (Townsville Base Hospital).