Worrying results from the third report of Monash University’s Driving Health Study revealed that Australian truck drivers suffering from mental illness are less likely than other workers to seek help.
The study found that in addition to drivers being hesistant to seek the necessary medical help, the drawn out process to access treatment is a deterrent to seeking help.
As part of the study 88,285 accepted Victorian workers’ compensation claims were analysed between July 2004 and June 2013, in the hopes of gaining insight that would help keep drivers safe on the job and increase their likelihood of seeking treatment when injuries occur.
Researchers found that around half (55%) of drivers are using only a few services with 10% using a lot and only 25% using mainly the physical therapy services. About 10% sought treatment for mental health only.
In a recent article on Fullyloaded.com.au the key insights gained through the study were highlighted as follows,
truck drivers are more likely to undergo surgery due to a work injury and have more doctor visits compared to other workers
most of the health care that drivers access is provided more than three months after the injury and for mental health services
92 per cent of drivers seeking treatment were waiting more than 14 weeks for help.
Ross Iles, from the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University, says the findings are concerning.“This report shows that truck drivers receive the majority of health care more than three months after an injury, but this delay was particularly apparent in mental health cases,” Iles says.
Researchers revealed that prior studies showed truck drivers are at an increased risk of suicide and combined with this study’s findings, deduced the need to provide earlier access to mental health care among truck drivers.
Mr Iles went on to state that Monash’s next step is to facilitate Australia’s largest survey of truck driver health next year. This survey will explore common conditions associated with truck driving such as depression, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and sleep apnoea.
Following the findings, the TWU called for immediate action to improve medical services for truck drivers, particularly with the heightened level of risk of driver suicides.