Systematic review of prognostic factors for workers' time away from work due to acute low-back pain: An update

What factors affect how long it will take workers to return to work following an episode of acute low-back pain (LBP)? This systematic review from the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) aimed to find out.

The goal of this review was to assess the evidence on factors that predict the length of absence among workers who are at the beginning of a sick leave related to low-back pain. The review looked at factors related to the injury, the job and the psychosocial work environment. It found strong evidence for the following factors affecting return to work among those with actue low-back pain:

  • workers' recovery expectations
  • interactions with health-care providers (e.g. type of provider)
  • workers' self-reported pain and functional limitations
  • presence of radiating pain
  • work-related factors including physical demands, job satisfaction and the offer of modified work.

Funded by the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba (WCB), this systematic review updates a previous one published in 2005.

Summary:Factors affecting RTW following acute low-back pain (172 KB)

Full report: 

Researcher(s): 

Steenstra I, Irvin E, Heymans M, Mahood Q, Hogg-Johnson S

Published: 

2011