Work-related recovery expectations and the prognosis of chronic low back pain within a workers' compensation setting

J Occup Environ Med. 2005 Apr;47(4):428-33. doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000158706.96994.a5.


Objective: We examined the association between work-related recovery expectations and return-to-work in patients with chronic back pain.

Methods: A prospective cohort of workers receiving time-loss benefits for back pain of at least 6 weeks' duration was studied. Workers completed a battery of measures, including a work-related recovery expectations questionnaire. Outcomes included surrogate indicators of timely return-to-work (days until suspension of time-loss benefits) and recovery (claim closure) censored at 1 year. Analysis included multivariable Cox and logistic regression.

Results: The sample was predominantly male (63%), with a mean age of 42 years. Positive work-related recovery expectations predicted a 26% faster suspension of time-loss benefits (95% confidence interval = 8-40%) and explained 7% of the variation in this outcome.

Conclusion: Recovery expectations provide important information for predicting time to return-to-work, as measured through suspension of time-loss benefits (R approximately 7%) in patients with chronic back pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alberta
  • Chronic Disease
  • Employment*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / psychology
  • Low Back Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Pain Measurement
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Workers' Compensation / statistics & numerical data*