Early intervention for back-injured nurses at a large Canadian tertiary care hospital: an evaluation of the effectiveness and cost benefits of a two-year pilot project

Occup Med (Lond). 1995 Aug;45(4):209-14. doi: 10.1093/occmed/45.4.209.


This study evaluated a two-year multidisciplinary early intervention pilot programme for back-injured nurses employed at a large teaching hospital, using a pre- versus post-programme analysis. The purpose was to ascertain whether this programme could reduce the incidence, morbidity, time lost and cost due to back injuries in the 250 nurses employed on ten targeted high-risk wards. Injuries in the remaining 1395 nurses employed on the other 45 wards were monitored concurrently for comparison. The programme consisted of prompt assessment, treatment and rehabilitation through modified work. Evaluative data were gathered by one research nurse on standardized forms at the time of injury, weekly until return to work, and at a six-month follow-up. Time lost and cost data for up to one-year post-injury were derived from workers' compensation statements. Compared to the two years prior to introduction of the programme, the rates of back injuries and lost-time back injuries decreased by 23% and 43%, respectively, on the targeted wards, while these increased on the control wards. Combined expenditure was 32% lower per injury and 34% lower per lost-time injury for those in the targeted group who consented to take part in the programme compared to their counterparts on the control wards, as the increased assessment and treatment costs per case attributable to the programme were more than offset by the savings in lower compensation (wage loss) costs. This programme thus reduced the incidence and time lost due to back injuries and was cost-beneficial.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Back Injuries*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Manitoba / epidemiology
  • Nurses*
  • Occupational Diseases / economics
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Workers' Compensation / statistics & numerical data