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December/January 2012/2013 (vol. 09/4)

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Research Plus

Back pain recovery – weak link to workplace support

Co-worker, supervisor or general workplace support has no effect on the risk of new onset non-specific back pain (LBP), but there is some – if mixed – evidence for a weak positive effect on LBP recovery and return to work (RTW), according to this systematic review (32 included papers). There were mixed findings on the impact of support on recovery from back pain. Of four studies looking at co-worker support, two found an association between low support and delayed RTW, one reported a reverse effect, and one found no association. Nine studies reported 12 findings on the impact of general work support on RTW status – five showed an association between low support and delayed return, while the remaining seven showed no association. Three studies looked at the influence of supervisor support on RTW status, but no associations were found. The authors surmise that the three support mechanisms measured in the study are mere elements within a complex system of interactions and influences that make up employment support, and this needs further exploration.

International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health 2012; online first: doi: 10.1007/s00420-012-0804-2. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00420-012-0804-2

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Occupational Health at Work December/January 2012/2013 (vol. 09/4) pp40