Introduction: Psychosocial factors are important contributors to work disability associated with musculoskeletal conditions. The primary objectives of this paper were 1) to describe different psychosocial interventions that have been developed to prevent prolonged work disability, and 2) to identify future research directions that might enhance the impact of programs targeting psychosocial risk factors for work disability.
Methods: Selective review of scientific literature on psychosocial and behavioral interventions and work disability.
Results: Most prior interventions focused on psychosocial risk factors that exist primarily within the individual (e.g., pain catastrophizing, beliefs, expectancies). Successful disability prevention will require methods to assess and target psychosocial risk factors "outside" of the individual (e.g., interpersonal conflict in the workplace, job stress, etc.) using cost-effective, multipronged approaches. Research to explore interactions among different domains of psychosocial risk factors in relation to RTW outcomes is needed. Challenges to effective secondary prevention of work disability include developing competencies to enable a range of providers to deliver interventions, standardization of psychosocial interventions, and maximizing adherence to intervention protocols.
Conclusion: Effective secondary prevention of work disability will require research to develop cost-effective, multipronged approaches that concurrently target both worker-related and workplace psychosocial risk factors.