Primary care patients with musculoskeletal pain. Value of health-status and sense-of-coherence measures in predicting long-term work disability

Scand J Rheumatol. 2002;31(4):239-44. doi: 10.1080/030097402320318440.


Objective: To investigate long-term sick leave among primary care patients with musculoskeletal disorders and the predictive value of health-status and sense-of-coherence measures.

Methods: Patients aged 17 to 64 years who, during seven weeks, attended one of six primary care centers because of non-traumatic musculoskeletal pain and who completed the SF-36 health questionnaire and the sense of coherence (SOC) scale at baseline and after one year.

Results: Of 189 patients, 36 (19%) were sicklisted for at least three months before and/or after their visit; the most common diagnoses were non-specific soft-tissue or multiple joint, low back, and shoulder pain. The long-term sicklisted patients had significantly worse baseline SF-36 and SOC scores than the non-sicklisted patients; moderate improvement in the SF-36 bodily pain but no improvement in the physical functioning scores occurred. The duration of sick leave at baseline and the SF-36 bodily pain score were significant predictors of continuos one-year work disability.

Conclusion: Long-term sick leave was common among primary care patients with musculoskeletal pain. The physical functioning and return-to-work outcomes after one year were poor. The SF-36 bodily pain scale might be helpful in identifying at risk patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / therapy*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Sick Leave / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Class
  • Surveys and Questionnaires