Objectives To determine whether the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) tool added to the predictive ability of established prognostic factors, including patient demographic and clinical outcomes, to predict return to work (RTW) in injured workers with musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders of the upper extremity.
Methods A retrospective cohort study using a population-based database from the Workers’ Compensation Board of Alberta (WCB-Alberta) that focused on claimants with upper extremity injuries was used. Besides the DASH, potential predictors included demographic, occupational, clinical and health usage variables. Outcome was receipt of compensation benefits after 3 months. To identify RTW predictors, a purposeful logistic modelling strategy was used. A series of receiver operating curve analyses were performed to determine which model provided the best discriminative ability.
Results The sample included 3036 claimants with upper extremity injuries. The final model for predicting RTW included the total DASH score in addition to other established predictors. The area under the curve for this model was 0.77, which is interpreted as fair discrimination. This model was statistically significantly different than the model of established predictors alone (p<0.001). When comparing the DASH total score versus DASH item 23, a non-significant difference was obtained between the models (p=0.34).
Conclusions The DASH tool together with other established predictors significantly helped predict RTW after 3 months in participants with upper extremity MSK disorders. An appealing result for clinicians and busy researchers is that DASH item 23 has equal predictive ability to the total DASH score.
Source: Predictive value of the DASH tool for predicting return to work of injured workers with musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremity — Armijo-Olivo et al. — Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Background: Return to work (RTW) is a key goal in the proper management of upper limb disorders (ULDs). ULDs stem from diverse medical aetiologies and numerous variables can affect RTW. The abundance of factors, their complex interactions and the diversity of human behaviour make it difficult to pinpoint those at risk of not returning to work (NRTW) and to intervene effectively.
Aims: To weigh various clinical, functional and occupational parameters that influence RTW in ULD sufferers and to identify significant predictors.
Methods: A retrospective analysis of workers with ULD referred to an occupational health clinic and further examined by an occupational therapist. Functional assessment included objective and subject ive [Disability of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) score] parameters. Quantification of work requirements was based on definitions from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles web site. RTW status was confirmed by a follow-up telephone questionnaire.
Results: Among the 52 subjects, the RTW rate was 42%. The DASH score for the RTW group was 27 compared with 56 in the NRTW group (P < 0.001). In multivariate analyses, only the DASH score was found to be a significant independent predictor of RTW (P < 0.05).
Conclusions: Physicians and rehabilitation staff should regard a high DASH score as a warning sign when assessing RTW prospects in ULD cases. It may be advisable to focus on workers with a large discrepancy between high DASH scores and low objective disability and to concentrate efforts appropriately.
via Predictors of return to work with upper limb disorders.