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.