Management of occupational back injuries: Differences among African Americans and Caucasians

Raymond C. Tait, John T. Chibnall, Elena M. Andresen, Nortin M. Hadler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


This study examined differences in the case management of occupational low back injuries in a large, racially diverse population of Workers' Compensation claimants in Missouri. Participants were African Americans (N=580) and non-Hispanic whites (N=892) who had filed occupational injury claims that were settled over an 18-month period. Telephone interview data were gathered regarding diagnoses, legal representation, demographics, and socioeconomic status. The Missouri Division of Workers' Compensation also provided information on medical and temporary disability expenditures, claim duration, final disability ratings, and settlement awards. Simultaneous-entry, hierarchical multiple and logistic regression analyses showed significant and substantial effects for injury-related variables, socioeconomic status, and race across all Workers' Compensation variables. Differences remained for both injury and African Americans and lower socioeconomic status workers after controlling for injury, and for African Americans after controlling for both injury and socioeconomic status. Because Workers' Compensation mandates equal access to treatment and disability reimbursement for all injured workers, the differences observed in this study may reflect sociocultural biases in disability management among healthcare providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-396
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Disparities
  • Low back pain
  • Occupational injury
  • Treatment
  • Worker's Compensation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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