Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Occup Environ Med. 1999 Oct;41(10):884-92.

Work-related upper-extremity disorders: prospective evaluation of clinical and functional outcomes.

Author information

  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, USA.


The purpose of this study was to describe the demographic, vocational, medical, workplace, and psychosocial characteristics of patients treated for work-related upper-extremity disorders, to document treatment patterns in a community-practice setting, and to determine which of these factors predicts subsequent employment and functional status outcomes. A questionnaire was administered by mail or telephone to 112 patients seen at the University of Massachusetts Occupational Upper Extremities Disorders Clinic and included measures of disease-specific functional status, pain, reactions to pain, employer-employee relations, and number and type of interventions used to treat the disorder. Results were compared with baseline data obtained, on average, 16 months prior to follow-up. Of the original cohort (n = 124), 112 participated in the prospective study. Although most patients reported improvement in pain severity, fear of pain, life situation, and functional status, there was little change in employment status. Patients' self-reported intentions of return to work at baseline did not predict work status at follow-up. In general, those who were employed at baseline remained employed, had a greater reduction in symptom severity over time, and were significantly more likely to report improvement in their problem than those who were unemployed. The efficacy of various interventions was examined by type, mix, and intensity (number of different interventions undergone by the patient). No positive relationship was found between these measures and employment status, self-reported change in the problem, or self-reported improvement in functional status. Significant negative relationships were found between surgery, psychotherapeutic interventions, and outcomes. This was likely to have occurred because of a selection bias toward the more chronic and severely disabled patients for these treatments. However, the relative ineffectiveness of such intensive interventions as surgery in improving the work and health status of chronically symptomatic work-related upper-extremity patients cannot be overlooked. The findings suggest that more emphasis be placed on interventions aimed at resolving differences between employers and injured employees. More careful selection of patients for expensive and invasive procedures is recommended.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk