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Disabil Rehabil. 2002 Jun 15;24(9):462-70.

A preliminary examination of the relationship between employment, pain and disability in an amputee population.

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Scottish Network for Chronic Pain Research, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, Scotland, UK.



To examine amputees' use of health, social and voluntary services and to assess the perceived benefit of such use. Additionally, to examine the degree and type of changes made in occupational status in relation to both pain and prosthetic limb use following amputation.


A survey methodology was employed to examine the services used by amputees and their experiences of occupational change. A response rate of 62% resulted in 315 amputees completing the study. The study sample was drawn from patient records at three artificial limb and appliance centres in the central belt of Scotland.


Overall the data suggest that few amputees make use of the available services for general amputation-related problems. Even fewer services were utilized for phantom limb pain or for other pain problems. Moreover, of those services that were used, very few were reported as being helpful. Amputation had severe consequences in terms of employment with 75% of the sample in employment prior to the amputation and only 43.5% remaining following amputation. Additionally, of those who did remain in employment there were a number of changes from pre- to post-amputation occupational classification. Employment status was related to the intensity of phantom limb pain, and daily prosthetic limb use with unemployed amputees reporting higher levels of pain and lower levels of prosthesis use.


The study demonstrates the need for further research to determine whether the results obtained regarding occupational changes following amputation result pain, disability, amputees' attitudes towards themselves in relation to work, or to employers' attitudes and beliefs about their capabilities. Further research is also required to determine why so few amputees make use of available services and why, even when they are used, such services are not perceived as being helpful. Finally, there is a need to clarify the relationship between the extent of daily prostheses use, the experience of phantom limb pain and employment status.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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