Evaluation of a functional restoration programme in chronic low back pain

Occup Med (Lond). 2006 Oct;56(7):497-500. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kql086. Epub 2006 Aug 11.


Background: Persistent low back pain is a major health and socio-economic problem in the UK. Evidence-based guidelines have been produced to inform management strategies for this significant health issue. This study reports the outcome of a tertiary intervention functional restoration programme (FRP) in manual workers of a water utility company, consistent with UK guidelines.

Objectives: To evaluate whether a FRP could achieve a sustainable improvement in back health, a sustainable return to full duties and a cost reduction.

Method: Participants were assessed at start, end, 12 and 24 months post-programme.

Results: Eighty-nine employees completed the FRP; 78 returned to normal duties, nine to restricted duties and two left the employer shortly after. Overall, there were significant improvements in psychological status, perceived pain, disability and work capability. Improvements were sustained for 24 months. Sickness absence and the need for post-treatment work restrictions decreased. Reductions in ill-health retirements and compensation claims for low back pain were reduced.

Conclusion: The findings support the effectiveness of a tertiary intervention FRP for workers with persistent low back pain.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Adult
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Low Back Pain / epidemiology
  • Low Back Pain / psychology
  • Low Back Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Occupational Diseases / rehabilitation*
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Self Efficacy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Water Supply*