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Disparities/Minority Health

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Black and low-income workers have worse outcomes than other workers after filing compensation claims for low back injuries

Black and low-income workers, who filed compensation claims for job-related low back injuries, suffered worse health and more financial problems after the injury than their white and higher income counterparts. Researchers at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine and University of North Carolina, supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS13087), analyzed 3,181 workers' compensation claims settled in the State of Missouri between January 1, 2001, and June 1, 2002. They telephoned claimants an average of 21 months post-injury to determine their race, age, sex, socioeconomic status (SES), diagnosis, legal representation, treatment costs, temporary disability status, disability rating, and settlement costs. They then determined which of these factors predicted post-settlement outcomes, such as pain intensity, psychological distress, disability, and financial struggle.

The result demonstrated consistent race and SES differences in post-settlement outcomes among claimants with occupational back injuries. Independent of other variables, black race and lower SES predicted higher levels of post-settlement pain intensity, psychological distress, limited daily activities due to pain, and financial struggle. Race continued to predict financial struggle even after adjustment for SES.

See "Race and socioeconomic differences in post-settlement outcomes for African American and Caucasian workers' compensation claimants with low back injuries," by John T. Chibnall, Ph.D., Raymond C. Tait, Ph.D., Elena M. Andresen, Ph.D., and Nortin M. Hadler, M.D., in the April 2005 Pain 114, pp. 462-472.

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