The INTERMED questionnaire for predicting return to work after a multidisciplinary rehabilitation program for chronic low back pain

Joint Bone Spine. 2006 Dec;73(6):736-41. doi: 10.1016/j.jbspin.2005.12.012. Epub 2006 Jul 7.


Objectives: To evaluate the performance of the INTERMED questionnaire score, alone or combined with other criteria, in predicting return to work after a multidisciplinary rehabilitation program in patients with non-specific chronic low back pain.

Methods: The INTERMED questionnaire is a biopsychosocial assessment and clinical classification tool that separates heterogeneous populations into subgroups according to case complexity. We studied 88 patients with chronic low back pain who followed an intensive multidisciplinary rehabilitation program on an outpatient basis. Before the program, we recorded the INTERMED score, radiological abnormalities, subjective pain severity, and sick leave duration. Associations between these variables and return to full-time work within 3 months after the end of the program were evaluated using one-sided Fisher tests and univariate logistic regression followed by multivariate logistic regression.

Results: The univariate analysis showed a significant association between the INTERMED score and return to work (P<0.001; odds ratio, 0.90; 95% confidence interval, 0.86-0.96). In the multivariate analysis, prediction was best when the INTERMED score and sick leave duration were used in combination (P=0.03; odds ratio, 0.48; 95% confidence interval, 0.25-0.93).

Conclusion: The INTERMED questionnaire is useful for evaluating patients with chronic low back pain. It could be used to improve the selection of patients for intensive multidisciplinary programs, thereby improving the quality of care, while reducing healthcare costs.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Employment*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / diagnostic imaging
  • Low Back Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Care Team
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Radiography
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sick Leave*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*