Systematic review of prognostic factors for work participation in patients with sciatica

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Sciatica impacts on the ability to work and may lead to a reduced return to work. This study reviewed and summarised prognostic factors of work participation in patients who received conservative or surgical treatment for clinically diagnosed sciatica. We searched MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE and PsycINFO until January 2018. Cohort studies, using a measure of work participation as outcome, were included. Two independent reviewers performed study inclusion and used the Quality In Prognosis Studies tool for risk of bias assessment and GRADE to rate the quality of the evidence. Based on seven studies describing six cohorts (n=1408 patients) that assessed 21 potential prognostic factors, favourable factors for return to work (follow-up ranging from 3 months to 10 years) included younger age, better general health, less low back pain or sciatica bothersomeness, better physical function, negative straight leg raise-test, physician expecting surgery to be beneficial, better pain coping, less depression and mental stress, less fear of movement and low physical work load. Study results could not be pooled. Using GRADE, the quality of the evidence ranged from moderate to very low, with downgrading mainly for a high risk of bias and imprecision. Several prognostic factors like pain, disability and psychological factors were identified and reviewed, and these could be targeted using additional interventions to optimise return to work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)772-779
JournalOccupational and environmental medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

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