Objective: To reduce a full psychosocial test battery to a brief screening questionnaire to triage return-to-work strategies among patients with low back pain (LBP).
Methods: Workers (N = 496) with acute, work-related LBP completed multiple psychosocial measures at intake, then a 3-month follow-up of pain, function, and work status. A sensitivity analysis was conducted to reduce the number of items while maintaining scale reliability, preserving associations with outcomes, and maintaining separation between patient subgroups.
Results: The pool of items was trimmed from 129 to 46 items, describing elements of emotional distress, pain beliefs, organizational support, and activity limitation. A confirmatory cluster analysis replicated previous findings of three risk subgroups: distressed, avoidant, and lacking employer support.
Conclusions: The reduced measure is a reliable and valid screening measure that can be used to identify early intervention needs among working adults with LBP.