Australian General Practitioners’ and Compensable Patients: Factors Affecting Claim Management and Return to Work

Abstract

Purpose General Practitioners (GPs) play an important role in personal injury compensation systems yet system processes have been perceived as burdensome. Objectives were to (1) determine attitudes of Australian GPs on health benefits of return to work (RTW) after injury/illness and (2) identify associations between GP characteristics and agreement with issues surrounding treating compensable patients. Methods Cross-sectional postal survey of 423 Australian GPs to determine agreement with issues associated with compensable patients (including patient advocacy, conflicting opinions between GPs and compensation systems, fitness-for-work certification, and refusal to treat). Results The vast majority of GPs agreed there was a health benefit to early RTW. GPs with 16–20 years’ experience had significantly higher odds of agreeing that the certificate of work capacity is the primary method of communication between RTW stakeholders (OR 2.36 [1.13–4.92]) than those with greater experience. 49% of GPs agreed they should be able to refuse to treat compensable patients. Female GPs had significantly lower odds (OR 0.60 [0.40–0.90]) of agreeing with right to refuse than male GPs, as did those from remote or regional practices (OR 0.43 [0.20–0.94]; OR 0.60 [0.39–0.92]) than GPs from urban practices. Conclusions Reducing administrative barriers identified by Australian GPs and improving communication with compensation systems will likely have a positive impact on their refusal to treat compensable patients.

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This research did not receive any specific funding.

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Correspondence to Shannon E. Gray.

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Gray, S.E., Brijnath, B., Mazza, D. et al. Australian General Practitioners’ and Compensable Patients: Factors Affecting Claim Management and Return to Work. J Occup Rehabil 29, 672–678 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10926-019-09828-3

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Keywords

  • Injury
  • Return to work
  • Health services administration
  • Refusal to treat
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Traffic accidents