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October/November 2009 (vol. 06/3)

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Research Plus

Back pain recovery

Large national differences in sustainable return to work (RTW) after chronic low back pain (LBP) are largely explained by the different use of work interventions and job characteristics, according to a multinational cohort of 2,825 sickness benefit/compensation claimants off work for three to four months. Flexible eligibility criteria for long-term disability benefits are more effective than stricter policies in promoting RTW. Just over 41% of claimants from six countries had a sustainable RTW two years after sick leave onset, but this varied significantly, from 22% in Germany to 62% in the Netherlands. Different approaches to work interventions explained more of the between-nation variance than did differences in medical intervention. Use of ‘therapeutic work resumption’ (60%) and adjusted working hours (49%) were highest in the Netherlands, while job redesign was more common in Israel (44%). Germany scored the lowest for all work interventions.

Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation 2009; online first: doi 10.1007/s10926–009–9202–3. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10926-009-9202-3

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Occupational Health at Work October/November 2009 (vol. 06/3) pp39