Objective: To assess, from the review literature, the extent to which effective strategies for reducing work absence after acute low back pain (LBP) match empirical risk factors.
Methods: From 17 recent review articles (2000-2005), disability risk factors and interventions were cross-tabulated to assess levels of relative concordance.
Results: Potentially modifiable risk factors included 23 variables describing 3 workplace and 3 personal domains. Effective interventions included 25 strategies that were personal (physical or behavioral), engineering, or administrative in nature. There was a strong risk factor concordance for workplace technical and organizational interventions, graded activity exposure, and cognitive restructuring of pain beliefs. There was less risk factor concordance for exercise, back education, and RTW coordination. Few interventions focused on relieving emotional distress or improving job dissatisfaction, two well-supported risk factors.
Discussion: Gaps between the epidemiological and intervention research of back disability prevention could be reduced by testing mediators of intervention effects or by stratifying outcomes according to pre-intervention risk factors.