Sickness absence in patients with arm, neck and shoulder complaints presenting in physical therapy practice: 6 months follow-up

Man Ther. 2010 Oct;15(5):476-81. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2010.04.001. Epub 2010 May 31.


Objective: To describe sickness absence in patients with arm, neck and/or shoulder complaints and to evaluate determinants of sickness absence during 6 months follow-up.

Methods: A prospective cohort study in physical therapy practice with follow-up measurements at 3 and 6 months. The main outcome measure was the occurrence of sickness absence due to arm, neck and shoulder complaints during 6 months follow-up. Determinants were tested in univariate and multivariate GEE (Generalized Estimating Equations) analysis.

Results: At baseline 161 patients (33%) reported absence from work. The multivariate analysis showed that self-reported work-relatedness of complaints, previous musculoskeletal trauma, higher severity of complaints at baseline, more somatization and low decision authority at work were associated with sickness absence during the follow-up period.

Conclusion: In physical therapy practice, social and psychological factors (at work) influence the occurrence of sickness absence in patients with arm, neck and/or shoulder complaints. These factors can be taken into account when developing and evaluating interventions to reduce sickness absence among these patients.

MeSH terms

  • Arm*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neck Pain / epidemiology
  • Neck Pain / physiopathology*
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Therapy Specialty
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Shoulder Pain / epidemiology
  • Shoulder Pain / physiopathology*
  • Sick Leave / statistics & numerical data*
  • Somatoform Disorders / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires