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Predictors for return to work for those with occupational respiratory disease: Clinical and structural factors

Authors

  • Jeanette M. Zoeckler MPH,

    1. Department of Family Medicine, Occupational Health Clinical Center, State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York
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    • Project Consultant.
  • Donald A. Cibula PhD,

    1. Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York
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    • Assistant Professor.
  • Christopher P. Morley PhD,

    1. Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York
    2. Department of Family Medicine, State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York
    3. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York
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    • Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Vice Chair for Research, Assistant Professor of Public Health and Psychiatry.
  • Michael B. Lax MD, MPH

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Family Medicine, State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York
    • Correspondence to: Michael B. Lax, MD, MPH, Occupational Health Clinical Center, 6712 Brooklawn Drive, Suite 204, Syracuse, NY 13211.

      E-mail: laxm@upstate.edu

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    • Medical Director of Occupational Health Clinical Center, Professor of Family Medicine.

  • Disclosure Statement: The authors report no conflicts of interests.

Abstract

Background

Few occupational researchers have examined “return to work” among patients with work-related respiratory diseases. In addition, prior studies have emphasized individual patient characteristics rather than a more multi-dimensional approach that includes both clinical and structural factors.

Methods

A retrospective chart review identified patients with occupational respiratory diseases in the Occupational Health Clinical Center, Syracuse, NY between 1991 and 2009. We assessed predictors of work status using an exploratory, sequential mixed methods research design, multinomial (n = 188) and Cox regressions (n = 130).

Results

The findings suggest that patients with an increased number of diagnoses, non-union members, and those who took more than a year before clinical presentation had significantly poorer work status outcomes, after adjusting for age, education level, and relevant diagnoses.

Conclusions

Efforts to prevent slow return to work after developing occupational respiratory disease should recognize the importance of timely access to occupational health services, disease severity, union membership, and smoking status. Am. J. Ind. Med. 56:1371–1382, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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