Effectiveness of a return-to-work intervention for subacute low-back pain

Hynek Hlobil, J Bart Staal, Maaike Spoelstra, Geertje A M Ariëns, Tjabe Smid, Willem van Mechelen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


The effectiveness of return-to-work intervention for subacute low-back pain on work absenteeism, pain severity, and functional status was examined by means of a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Publications in English that met the selection criteria were identified in a computer-aided search and assessed for methodological quality. A best-evidence synthesis was performed instead of statistical data pooling, because of the heterogeneity of the interventions and study populations. Five of nine studies comparing return-to-work intervention with usual care were identified as methodologically high-quality studies. Strong evidence was found for the effectiveness of return to work intervention on the return-to-work rate after 6 months and for the effectiveness of return-to-work intervention on the reduction of days of absence from work after > or = 12 months. It can be concluded that return-to-work interventions are equal or more effective regarding absence from work due to subacute low-back pain than usual care is.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-57
Number of pages9
JournalScandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005


  • Behavior Therapy/methods
  • Ergonomics
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain/psychology
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Rehabilitation, Vocational/methods
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sick Leave

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