Physical injury can impact a person in unexpected ways. For example, by leading to the development of persistent pain or a mental health condition. Researchers are currently documenting the way that these complications unfold and resolve.

Secondary complications can significantly impact on an injured person's health and wellbeing, their process of recovery after injury and their Return to Work outcomes.

Professor Belinda Gabbe and Associate Professor Peter Smith from Monash University's Department of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine led a research team to investigate this area further.

This research team looked specifically at persistent pain and mental health conditions arising as a direct result of physical injury.

The researchers' objective was to document the nature, incidence,and impact that these secondary conditions have on recovery and return to workout comes for individuals with transport or work-related injury in Victoria.

They hoped to contribute towards the early identification and prevention of secondary mental health conditions and persistent pain among people injured in workplace and transport accidents.

Where to now?

This research confirms that both WorkSafe and the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) need to focus on secondary mental health conditions and persistent pain within their schemes.

Although the reports find that only a small percentage of claimants develop secondary complications, they note that the healthcare and wage replacement costs of these individuals are comparatively high – and that these claimants experience poor outcomes in terms of health, wellbeing and return to work.

The final report produced as part of this project outlines a range of risk factors associated with the development of secondary complications. The report recommends that, since most of them are not modifiable, WorkSafe and TAC should instead focus on efficiently identifying and managing at-risk individuals as early as possible in a claim journey.

Identified risk factors include having a previous claim, being female and/or middle-aged, and having a lower socio-economic background.

ISCRR researchers have also completed Evidence Reviews assessing the following treatments in terms of their effectiveness at treating persistent pain:

Another review has also been produced studying Art Therapy as a treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Associate Professor Meaghan O'Donnell from Melbourne University also delivered a key note address exploring the influence of mental health and psychosocial factors on injury recovery outcomes as part of the 2014 Australasian Compensation Health Research Forum (ACHRF) (co-run by ISCRR).