Study design: A prospectively designed study was performed to assess the influence of employment status and a compensation claim on patients experiencing low back pain.
Objectives: To determine the factor that most influences disability arising from low back pain, unemployment or a compensation claim.
Summary of background data: Two hundred sixty-nine consecutive patients were assessed from a low back pain clinic.
Methods: Disability was assessed using the Oswestry Disability Score, and employment, and compensation status were recorded.
Results: Both unemployment and patients involved in compensation had higher disability scores. However, by controlling the data for employment and assessing only the compensation group it was found that those claiming compensation, but still working had significantly less disability than those claiming compensation who were unemployed.
Conclusions: Both unemployment and compensation claims influence disability, but employment status is the most important factor.