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Study Finds Multidisciplinary Interventions No More Effective than Brief Ones for Employees with Low Back Pain

Employees suffering from low back pain (LBP) who were treated by a team of experts and assigned a case manager who collaborated on a comprehensive rehabilitation plan with the experts and patient did not show better results than employees who received a brief intervention consisting of a clinical examination and advice offered by a rehabilitation physician and a physiotherapist, according to a group of researchers from Denmark.

The researchers reviewed the 1-year return-to-work rates of 351 employees who missed 3-16 weeks of work because of low back pain. “Previous studies in sick-listed employees with LBP have indicated efficacy of both brief and more comprehensive multidisciplinary interventions. However, it remains unknown which is the more effective and which elements are instrumental in furthering return to work and improving health,” said the researchers.

Of the workers who received a multidisciplinary, comprehensive treatment approach, 125 – 71 percent – returned to work, compared to the 133 participants (76 percent) in the brief intervention group who returned to work. The mental health score was slightly higher for those in the multidisciplinary intervention group than in the brief intervention group.

“Hospital-based multidisciplinary intervention may be no better than brief intervention to increase return to work and improve health in sick-listed employees with low back pain,” concluded researchers.

The study, “One-Year Follow-Up in Employees Sick-Listed Because of Low Back Pain: Randomized Clinical Trial Comparing Multidisciplinary and Brief Intervention,” is published in the July issue of Spine.

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