Return to Work among Healthcare Workers Injured due to Workplace Violence

Thursday, August 13, 2020 at 10:00 AM PT, 1:00 PM ET


Workplace violence is a common occupational hazard and cause of work disability in the healthcare sector. In British Columbia, the yearly rate of compensated violence-related work claims among healthcare workers is 3–10 times higher compared with other industries.

Healthcare workers are known to be psychologically demanding environments, and the effects of injuries due to violence might be exacerbated in these workplaces. There is little evidence on the effect of violence on work disability duration and the likelihood to return-to-work after injury.

Knowing the high rate of violence-related work claim among healthcare workers, we studied the impact of these injuries on the time to return to work after at least one day of sickness absence. We identified the following 2 research questions:

  • Are certain types of injuries more likely to be associated with violence?
  • Does violence result in different return-to-work outcomes and what affects the relationship between violence and return-to-work?

Take-home messages

  • Violence-related incidents compared with non-violence-related incidents were associated with a longer time to return-to-work for workers with psychological injuries, those working in counselling or social work occupations, and those working in long-term care and residential social services.
  • The evidence from this study shows that in addition to primary prevention of work-related violent incidents, intervention to reduce work disability related to violence should focus on healthcare workers with psychological injuries and on workers who are off work for more than a month after a violent incident. These workers have a higher likelihood to remain off work for more than 1 year and in some cases permanently.
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Esther Maas, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Partnership for Work, Health, and Safety, Partnership between WorkSafeBC and the University of British Columbia
Dr. Esther Maas is working as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Partnership for Work, Health, and Safety, which is a partnership between WorkSafeBC and UBC. She is supported by a CIHR fellowship, and is working on a program of research on the evaluation of workers’ compensation policies and programs, with a particular focus on identifying effective and cost-effective approaches in facilitating early and sustained return-to-work after a musculoskeletal injury. Dr. Maas earned a Master’s degree (with honors) in Health Sciences from the University of Maastricht, and a Master’s degree in Epidemiology from the VU University in Amsterdam, both in the Netherlands. She completed her doctoral research at the VU University in the field of Health Sciences, in which she mainly focused on the cost-effectiveness of radiofrequency denervation for chronic low back pain. Her primary research interests include health technology assessment, economic evaluations, and epidemiology, and musculoskeletal health.

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