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J Occup Rehabil. 2014 Dec;24(4):806-11. doi: 10.1007/s10926-014-9507-8.

Experts opinion on the use of normative data for functional capacity evaluation in occupational and rehabilitation medicine and disability claims.

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Center for Rehabilitation, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, 30.002, 9750 RA, Haren, The Netherlands,

Erratum in

  • J Occup Rehabil. 2014 Dec;24(4):812. Kuijer, P Paul F M [corrected to Kuijer, P Paul].



Application of normative values for functional capacity evaluation (FCE) is controversial for the assessment of clients for work ability. The objective of this study was to study when clinicians and researchers consider normative values of FCE useful or of no use for their purposes.


A focus group meeting was organized among 43 FCE experts working in insurance, occupational and/or rehabilitation medicine from eight countries during the first international FCE research meeting on October 25th, 2012 in the Netherlands. Participants were asked to rate to which degree they agree or disagree with a statement concerning their position toward normative values for FCE on a 10 cm VAS ranging from 0 (completely disagree) to 100 (completely agree) at T0 and T1. Arguments for aspects that are useful and of no use for normative values were systematically collected during the meeting and afterwards independently clustered by two researchers in higher order topics.


Baseline opinion of participants on their position toward normative values was 49 ± 29 points. After the meeting, mean VAS was 55 ± 23 (p = 0.07), indicating that participants did not significantly change their opinion toward normative values. Based on arguments provided by the experts, seven higher order topics were constructed namely 'Comparison with job demands or treatment goals'; 'Comparison with co-workers physical ability'; 'Sincerity of effort'; 'Validity for work ability and return to work'; 'Experience of referrer with assessment method'; 'Clinimetrics compared to alternative assessment methods or reference values'; and 'Ease of use for clinician and stakeholders'.


Although experts state useful aspects for the use of normative values of FCE for these assessments, it may also lead to over-interpretation of results, leading to dualistic statements concerning work ability, with potential harmful consequences for work ability of patients.

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