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Clin Rehabil. 2013 Jan;27(1):40-50. doi: 10.1177/0269215512446839. Epub 2012 Jun 14.

Individual work support for employed patients with low back pain: a randomized controlled pilot trial.

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  • 1Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK. carolyn.coole@nottingham.ac.uk



To investigate the feasibility and effectiveness of individual work support for employed patients with low back pain.


Pilot randomized controlled trial of a 16-week vocational intervention with six-month follow-up.




Fifty-one employed participants concerned about their ability to work due to low back pain. Outcome data was obtained for 38 participants at six-month follow-up.


The intervention group received up to eight individually targeted vocational sessions in conjunction with group rehabilitation for low back pain. The control group received group rehabilitation.


The feasibility of the intervention was assessed by the recruitment rate, drop-out and loss to follow-up of the participants and the content and delivery of the intervention as recorded by the researcher. The primary outcome measure was perceived work ability.


Seventy-three participants were referred to the study over six months. Eighty-seven individual work support sessions were delivered. Thirty-one participants (61% of those retained in the study) attended more than half of the group rehabilitation sessions. The intervention was influenced by the uptake of group rehabilitation, the willingness of the participants to involve their workplace and of their workplace to involve the research therapist. The effect of the intervention on work ability was equivocal.


Although it was possible to recruit participants and to deliver the intervention, considerable methodological problems were identified. However, even if these were addressed, the impact of such interventions is likely to be limited unless there is an integrated approach between healthcare, employers and employees. Further research is required to evaluate work-focused interventions with this client group.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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