Return to work and health-related quality of life after burn injury
Johan Dyster-Aas, Morten Kildal and Mimmie Willebrand
Objective: Although severe burn injury is associated with long-term rehabilitation and disability, research on returning to work in burn patients is limited. The aims of this study were: (i) to explore injury- and personality-related predictors of returning to work, and (ii) to compare health-related quality of life and health outcome in working versus non-working individuals.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Subjects: Forty-eight former patients with pre-burn employment were evaluated on average 3.8 years after the burn. Methods: Data were collected from medical records and by a questionnaire in which the patients were asked about their main activity status described in the terms: work, studies, pension, disability pension, sick leave or unemployment. It also contained the Swedish universities Scales of Personality, SF-36, Burn Specific Health Scale-Brief, items assessing fear-avoidance, Impact of Event Scale-Revised and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.
Results: Thirty-one percent had not returned to work. In logistic regression, returning to work was associated with time since injury, the extent of full-thickness injuries, and the personality trait embitterment. Those who did not work had lower health-related quality of life, poorer burn-specific health, more fear-avoidance and more symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, but they did not differ from those who were working regarding general mood.
Conclusion: Returning to work was explained by both injury severity and personality characteristics. Those who did not work were characterized by low health-related quality of life and poorer trauma-related physical and psychological health.
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