June/July 2017 (vol. 14/1)

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Obituary: Good work

A tribute to Gordon Waddell


The orthopaedic surgeon and pioneer in the understanding and management of back pain, Professor Gordon Waddell, who has died of mesothelioma, aged 74, played a seminal role in the biopsychosocial approach to promoting return to work from long-term sickness absence.

Gordon Waddell was born in Scotland and qualified in medicine at Glasgow in 1967. His appointment in 1977 as consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Glasgow’s Western Infirmary marked the beginning of his special interest in understanding spinal problems, back pain, and their resultant disability. He was an extraordinary scientist and communicator, with an uncanny ability to synthesise complex information and present it in a way that changed how people did things.


This tribute to Gordon Waddell was written by his former colleagues and collaborators Kim Burton, Chris Main and Mansel Aylward.


Author: Burton K, Main C, Aylward M


Occupational Health at Work June/July 2017 (vol. 14/1) pp16-17

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