The authors examined whether early employer response to workplace injury affects injured workers' subsequent attitudes and mental health. At 1 month and 6 months postinjury, telephone surveys were conducted with 344 workers from Ontario, Canada, who had experienced a musculoskeletal lost-time workplace injury. One-month reports of initial supervisor reaction to the injury and the use of workplace-based return-to-work strategies (early contact with worker, ergonomic assessment, presence of designated coordinator, accommodation offer) were hypothesized to predict reports of fairness, affective commitment, and depressive symptoms measured at 6 months postinjury. Structural equation modeling supported a model wherein fairness perceptions fully mediated the relationship between early responses and injured workers' attitudes and mental health. Early contact and supervisor reactions were significant predictors of fairness perceptions. The implications for early employer response are discussed.
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