Purpose The Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short Form Survey (SF-36) is a widely used measure of health-related quality of life and normative reference values have been published for the general population of several countries. Since injured workers often experience pain, disability and other health challenges, we evaluated SF-36 reference values for Canadian workers’ compensation claimants undergoing rehabilitation. Methods Descriptive cross-sectional design. Data were gathered as part of a study aimed at developing a tool for selecting rehabilitation programs. Data were available on a wide variety of measures, including the SF-36. We calculated age- and sex-adjusted reference values, and stratified analyses based on type of rehabilitation, employment status and diagnostic group. Results Data were available on 5,622 claimants undergoing rehabilitation. Claimants reported significant limitations on all SF-36 scales, but were especially limited on the Role Emotional and Bodily Pain scales (~3 standard deviations below typical Canadian norms). Unemployed, middle-aged claimants undergoing chronic pain programs reported the lowest health status, but SF-36 scores varied minimally across diagnoses. Conclusions Claimant scores on the SF-36 were below population norms across all health scales and differed depending on age, employment status and type of rehabilitation. These data will be useful for assessing the health status of injured workers and evaluating the effect of rehabilitation interventions.
Health-related quality of life Compensation Occupational injuries Outcome measurement Disability insurance
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This research was supported with funds from the Workers’ Compensation Board of Alberta.
Conflict of interest
The authors have no competing interests or financial arrangements that would represent a conflict of interest for this research.
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