Brief Intervention Helps Employees Return to Work

Sick-listed employees with low back pain benefit from brief or multidisciplinary intervention

TUESDAY, June 28 (HealthDay News) -- A brief intervention is as efficient as multidisciplinary intervention for increasing one-year return to work (RTW) for sick-listed employees with low back pain (LBP), according to a study published in the July 1 issue of Spine.

Chris Jensen, Ph.D., from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, and colleagues compared one-year RTW, pain, disability, and physical and mental health dimensions in 344 employees sick-listed for three to 16 weeks because of LBP. Participants were randomized to a brief intervention, in the form of clinical examination and advice from a rehabilitation doctor and a physical therapist, or multidisciplinary hospital-based intervention with an assigned case manager who drew up a rehabilitation plan together with the patient, and supplemented with the expertise of a multidisciplinary team. Data from a comprehensive national database of social transfer payments were used to estimate one-year RTW. Baseline and one-year data were obtained on Roland Morris disability score, LBP Rating Scale, mental health score, and fear-avoidance by use of questionnaires.

The investigators found that RTW was achieved by 71 percent of patients treated with the multidisciplinary hospital-based intervention and 76 percent of patients in the brief-intervention group. After adjusting for gender, age, smoking, compensation claims, disability score, and diagnosis, the hazard ratio was 0.84. There were no significant differences in secondary outcomes, except for the mental health score, which was slightly higher in the multidisciplinary intervention group.

"Hospital-based multidisciplinary intervention may be no better than brief intervention to increase RTW and improve health in sick-listed employees with low back pain," the authors write.

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