What is the Long-term Capacity to Return to Work following Gunshot Injury?

Research Paper Title

Occupational outcomes following combat-related gunshot injury: Cohort study.


The long-term impact of gun violence on physical function and occupational disability remains poorly explored. The researchers sought to examine the effect of combat-related gunshot injury on work capacity within a cohort of military service members and identify clinical characteristics that influence the capacity to return to work.


A query was performed to identify all service members injured by gunshot in the years 2005-2009. These soldiers were then followed for a period up to the end of 2014 in order to identify those separated from service due to an inability to perform military duties as a result of their injury. Socio-demographic and clinical characteristics were considered co-variates. The dependent variable in this study was inability to effectively return to work, as delineated by the proxy of medical separation from military service. A multivariable logistic regression model was used to evaluate factors associated with an increased likelihood of medical separation following gunshot injury.


Of the 1417 individuals meeting inclusion criteria, 40% (n = 572) of the cohort were medically separated in the time-period under study. Significant predictors of separation included non-thoracic injuries, increased injury severity score (ISS; OR 1.05; 95% CI 1.04, 1.06), Senior Enlisted (OR 3.90; 95% CI 2.16, 7.01), and Junior Enlisted military rank (OR 6.99; 95% CI 3.93, 12.44).


This is the largest study in the literature to assess the long-term capacity to return to work following gunshot injury in any population. Individuals in high-demand occupations and those with non-thoracic wounds, or elevated ISS, should be counseled in the post-gunshot injury period regarding the negative associations of these characteristics with the capacity to return to work. Enhanced access to social services in the period following injury could similarly benefit individuals of low socioeconomic background.


Laughlin, M.D., Belmont, P.J. Jr., Lanier, P.J., Bader, J.O., Waterman, B.R. & Schoenfeld, A.J. (2017) Occupational outcomes following combat-related gunshot injury: Cohort study. International Journal of Surgery (London, UK). 48:286-290. doi: 10.1016/j.ijsu.2017.11.037. Epub 2017 Nov 27.


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