Objectives - To estimate the cost and determinants of morbidity from work related disabilities. Methods - 114 people who lived in metropolitan Taipei and who had received disability compensation from the Labor Insurance Bureau from March to June, 1991 were randomly selected. There were 77 workers interviewed through a questionnaire that inquired about possible loss of productivity including the duration of morbidity, the ability to return to work, and any change in monthly income upon returning to work. Results - The mean (SD) duration of a stay in hospital was 29 (39) days, median: 15 days. The average duration between discharge from the hospital and returning to work was 111 (146) days, median: 45 days. The main determinants of the duration of the stay in hospital were the number of stays in hospital and the severity of the injury. A multivariate linear analysis showed that old age and the severity of injury determine the durations of morbidity. An ordinal logistic regression analysis showed that the severity of injury, size of the factory, and age determined the magnitude of future productivity loss. Based on these models, it was estimated that the total duration of morbidity (in hospital and at home) due to occupational disability was 660.000 person-days each year. When the percentage of the decrease in income because of permanent disability was converted into a loss of work days, the annual morbidity costs were about 19.000-26.000 person-years between 1985-1990. Conclusion - The morbidity cost was about five times as high as the lump sum payment that a worker usually received for disability compensation. We conclude that morbidity cost should be evaluated carefully in the future for the establishment of accurate and fair disability compensation payments.
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