Gender Influences on Return to Work After Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Published:April 25, 2015DOI:



      To examine the influence of gender on the return to work experience of workers who sustained a work-related mild traumatic brain injury (TBI).


      Qualitative study using in-depth telephone interviews.




      Purposive sampling was used to recruit participants. Participants were adults (N=12; males, n=6, females, n=6) with a diagnosis of mild TBI sustained through a workplace injury.


      Not applicable.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Not applicable.


      Our findings suggest that gender impacts return to work experiences in multiple ways. Occupational and breadwinner roles were significant for both men and women after work-related mild TBI. Women in this study were more proactive than men in seeking and requesting medical and rehabilitation services; however, the workplace culture may contribute to whether and how health issues are discussed. Among our participants, those who worked in supportive, nurturing (eg, feminine) workplaces reported more positive return to work (RTW) experiences than participants employed in traditionally masculine work environments. For all participants, employer and coworker relations were critical elements in RTW outcomes.


      The application of a gender analysis in this preliminary exploratory study revealed that gender is implicated in the RTW process on many levels for men and women alike. Further examination of the work reintegration processes that takes gender into account is necessary for the development of successful policy and practice for RTW after work-related MTBI.


      List of abbreviations:

      MTBI (mild traumatic brain injury), RTW (return to work), TBI (traumatic brain injury), WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board)
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