Absence resulting from low back trouble can be reduced by psychosocial intervention at the work place

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1995 Dec 15;20(24):2738-45. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199512150-00016.

Abstract

Study design: A 1-year prospective study in industry, assessing effects of an educational pamphlet on various psychosocial parameters and absenteeism resulting from low back trouble.

Objectives: To determine the value of distributing an educational psychosocial pamphlet to reduce absenteeism resulting from back trouble. The pamphlet was designed to alter avoidance behaviors by encouraging a positive, active approach.

Summary of background data: Attempts to control back-pain disability have failed. Fear of pain and activity seemingly leads to avoidance behaviors than contribute to chronicity and work loss. Avoidance behaviors are mediated by attitudes and beliefs; such attitudes and beliefs are a reasonable target for educational interventions designed to change "inappropriate" behaviors (e.g., extended absenteeism). Health education pamphlets are advocated widely but tested rarely.

Methods: Three factories participated in the study. Psychosocial data were collected by questionnaires; absence data were extracted from company records. A psychosocial pamphlet was distributed in one factory; the control subjects received either a nonspecific pamphlet or no intervention. The pamphlet emphasized a positive approach to low back trouble (reduction of negative beliefs and attitudes).

Results: In the company whose employees received pamphlets, a significant reduction occurred for the number of spells with extended absence and the number of days of absence (70% and 60%, respectively) compared with extrapolated values. A concomitant positive shift in beliefs concerning the locus of pain control and the inevitable consequences of low back trouble was found.

Conclusion: A simple industrial intervention using a psychosocial pamphlet, which was designed to reduce avoidance behaviors by fostering positive beliefs and attitudes, successfully reduced extended absence resulting from low back trouble.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism*
  • Adult
  • Fear
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / psychology*
  • Pamphlets
  • Social Support*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Work
  • Workplace