Objectives: This study attempted to determine the prognostic indicators of low-back pain in an occupational health setting.
Methods: The identification of prognostic factors of (i) functional disability after 3 months' follow-up, (ii) functional disability after 12 months' follow-up, and (iii) time to return to work among 120 workers who reported to an occupational health unit and were off work with low-back pain for at least 10 days. Crude and adjusted odds ratios and hazard ratios with 95% confidence intervals were estimated for the 3 outcome measures.
Results: Factors related to a longer time to return to work were radiating pain, high functional disability at the beginning of the study, problems in relations with colleagues, and high work tempo and work quantity. High functional disability at the beginning of the study and a high avoidance coping style predicted functional disability at 3 months. Functional disability at 12 months was more accurately predicted by work-related and psychosocial factors.
Conclusions: Especially radiating pain and functional disability predict a long duration of low-back pain in occupational health practice. Occupational physicians should also note work-related and psychosocial characteristics.