Low Back Pain Counseling Strategy Ups Return to Work

Early interventions for Belgian workers with low back pain improve return-to-work rates

MONDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Combining a disability evaluation with proactive counseling for workers with low back pain (LBP) results in a higher return-to-work rate, which is statistically significant at one year, according to a study published online Feb. 16 in Spine.

Marc G. Du Bois, M.D., and Peter Donceel, M.D., Ph.D., from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, evaluated 509 claimants with non-specific LBP randomly assigned to a disability evaluation (control group) or a disability evaluation with added counseling (intervention group). The impact of information and advice was assessed on the return-to-work rate, recurrence of sick leave, duration of sick leave, and subsequent surgery.

The researchers found that patients who were provided with advice and information had a higher return-to-work rate, which was significant at one year. This was primarily attributed to a lower relapse rate in the intervention versus control group (38 versus 60 percent). There were no differences between the two groups regarding subsequent surgery for LBP and duration of sick leave.

"A rehabilitation oriented approach resulted in [fewer] recurrent sickness absences over natural recovery alone for LBP claimants," the authors write.

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