Visibility into psychosocial and mental health factors – and the influence they have on work-related injury and recovery – continues to be a key area of focus for workers’ compensation stakeholders. More than a third of respondents to the Workers’ Compensation Industry Insights Survey, conducted by Healthesystems in partnership with Risk & Insurance®, identified psychosocial factors as a barrier to injured worker recovery. And respondents as a whole ranked psychosocial factors and/or social determinants of health as the #3 component of workers’ comp claims management into which they want more visibility.1
While a significant component of psychosocial factors includes psychological factors such as anxiety, fear avoidance, catastrophizing, or depression, just as important and nuanced are the social components.
Social Barriers to Recovery
Social determinants of health, as defined by government organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention2 and the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion,3 are the conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health and quality-of-life risks and outcomes. More broadly, this is inclusive of factors such as access to quality healthcare and education, economic stability, social and community dynamics, and an individual’s environment.
The impact of these issues on overall health outcomes has been well documented. It is often cited that medical care accounts for only approximately 10-20 percent of the modifiable contributors to healthy outcomes, and SDoH comprise up to 80 percent.4 It’s a sobering reminder that when it comes to patient care, there are rarely any guarantees or straight paths. Individuals are complex, and while the scope of workers’ compensation is focused on managing the work-related injury, that injury is part of a person, and that person brings inherent and unique complexity that can’t be separated out.
And while any SDoH has the potential to influence workers’ compensation outcomes in the same way they influence broader health outcomes, some may be especially impactful to injured worker recovery and/or services utilized during their care. Does the worker have the emotional support they need at home to stay engaged and motivated in their care and recovery? Do they have the transportation they need to attend a scheduled medical appointment? Is there a substance use disorder present that a provider should consider when making prescribing decisions, especially regarding opioids or other controlled medications that pose risk for dependence, addiction or misuse? Or, do the conditions at their workplace present a higher risk that they will be injured in the first place, or potentially reinjured upon return to the workplace?
With the continued, increasing focus on SDoH and their role in injury and recovery, Healthesystems recently launched a new Social Determinants of Health Article Series that will spotlight multiple SDoH, with a goal of answering these questions:
- What are social determinants of health (SDoH)?
- How do SDoH intersect with management of the injured worker?
- What are some specific examples of how SDoH can impact workplace injury and its recovery?
- How can workers’ compensation stakeholders gain more visibility into SDoH among injured worker populations?
You can access the first two articles of the series in Healthesystems’ RxInformer magazine. “Social Influencers: The Role of Social Determinants of Health in Injured Worker Recovery” provides an overview of how SDoH intersect with workers’ compensation claims, as well as leveraging existing data sources to gain visibility into these factors. “In Harm’s Way: The Impact of Violence in Workers’ Comp” explores the types of violence injured workers may be exposed to in their environments, and how it impacts health and healing.
This is a sponsored post from WorkCompWire marketing partner Healthesystems.
- 2022 Workers’ Comp Industry Insights Survey Report. Healthesystems in partnership with Risk & Insurance®. March 2022.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About Social Determinants of Health. https://www.cdc.gov/socialdeterminants/about.html
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Healthy People 2030: Social Determinants of Health. https://health.gov/healthypeople/objectives-and-data/social-determinants-health
- National Academy of Medicine. Social Determinants of Health 101 for Health Care: Five Plus Five. October 2017. https://nam.edu/social-determinants-of-health-101-for-health-care-five-plus-five/