August/September 2013 (vol. 10/2)

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Research Plus

Prognosis screening tool

A standard psychosocial risk factor (‘yellow flag’) clinical questionnaire – the Örebro Musculoskeletal Pain Screening Questionnaire (ÖMPSQ) – is a useful tool for predicting long-term sickness absence (LTSA) (over 30 days), presenteeism (going to work when ill) and disability benefits among workers referred to an OH service with neck or low back pain (N/LBP), according to Swedish research. The prospective cohort study comprised 195 mainly blue-collar workers from four workplaces followed up for two years. They had all visited the OH service because of N/LBP and completed the ÖMPSQ as well as a medical examination. The ÖMPSQ scores were statistically significant predictors for LTSA at six, 12 and 24 months’ follow-up, although predictive ability did diminish with time. Those with an ÖMPSQ score above 90 (from a maximum of 210) had a five-fold increased risk of LTSA during the first six months, while those scoring above 105 had a six-fold higher risk. Setting the cut-off score at 90 improved test sensitivity – ie the lower limit is more likely to capture those who will have LTSA. A higher cut-off score of 105 increased the specificity of the test but reduced its sensitivity – in other words, it improved the ability to eliminate those who would not have LTSA, but at the expense of not identifying some individuals who will have LTSA. The predictive ability was highest for disability benefits, and lowest for presenteeism, although all were statistically significant.

Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation 2013; online first: doi: 10.1007/s10926-013-9454-9

Occupational Health at Work August/September 2013 (vol. 10/2) pp41