Physicians determine causation in workers’ compensation cases primarily based on excluding other potential causes. The Journal of Occupational Medicine (London) ran an interesting article, How Physicians Allocate Causation: A Scenario Study With Factorial Design. The results and conclusion of the study are as follows:


RESULTS: The nature of the condition and scenario type (i.e. strength of the causal information about workplace and non-workplace factors) were associated with the physicians’ opinion on work-relatedness. Understanding the nature of the patient’s work, the timing of symptoms and the patients’ opinion about work-relatedness were viewed by the physicians as important. A decision that a condition was not work related was influenced primarily by the strength of potential causes outside work. Prior reporting history of the physician was not associated with opinions on work-relatedness, nor the factors considered in reaching this decision.


CONCLUSIONS: The characteristics of the case scenario were more important in determining a physician’s opinion about work-relatedness than the characteristics of the physician.