To determine, in a cohort with injuries classified anatomically as mainly minor or moderate and for which only 25% were hospitalised acutely, the prevalence of ongoing problems attributed by participants to their injury 2 years prior, and to examine whether three-month post-injury experiences and expectations predict such problems.
Participants (N = 2231; 18–64 years at injury) were those in the Prospective Outcomes of Injury Study who completed the initial three-month and final two-year interviews. The outcome measure was whether participants reported ongoing injury-related problems at 2 years. Possible early post-injury predictors were identified from the first interview; pre-injury and injury-related potential confounders from the first interview, insurer records and hospital discharge records. Multivariable models estimated relative risks.
Almost half the participants reported injury-related problems at 2 years. Participants reporting non-recovery at 3 months were more likely than those reporting recovery to have ongoing problems at 2 years, ranging from participants expecting to get better soon [adjusted RR 2.2, 95% CI (1.7,2.8)) to those expecting to never get better (aRR 3.1, 95% CI (2.4,4.0)]. Several three-month post-injury experiences also predicted ongoing problems at 2 years. Participants at highest risk included those with extreme pain [aRR 2.1, 95% CI (1.7,2.5)], and less involvement in usual activities [aRR 1.7, 95% CI (1.5,1.9)].
Findings indicate that early post-injury characteristics predict longer-term recovery among this cohort, most of who were not classified as seriously injured, and provide guidance for future studies on interventions to reduce poor outcome prevalence, particularly focussing on pain management and enabling return to independence and social participation.