Randomized controlled trial with 1-year follow up.
The aim of this study was to assess whether people with low back pain (LBP) and self-reported physically demanding jobs, benefit from an occupational medicine intervention, in addition to a single hospital consultation and a magnetic resonance imaging, at 1 year of follow-up. Secondly, to examine whether the positive health effects, found in both groups at 6 months, persist at 1-year follow-up.
Summary of Background Data.
The prevalence of LBP is high in the working population, resulting in a substantial social and economic burden. Although there are many guidelines available on the management of LBP, including multidisciplinary biopsychosocial rehabilitation, they provide limited guidance on the occupational medicine aspects.
As reported previously, 305 participants with LBP and self-reported physically demanding jobs were enrolled in the randomized controlled study and randomly allocated to clinical care with additional occupational medicine intervention or clinical care alone. Data were collected at baseline, 6 months, and 1 year. Outcomes included in the present 1-year follow-up study are changes in neuropathic pain (painDETECT questionnaire), severity of pain (0–10 numerical rating scale), disability (Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire), fear-avoidance beliefs (FABQ), physical, and mental quality of life (short-form 36).
The study showed no effect of an occupational intervention on neuropathic pain, fear-avoidance beliefs, physical and mental quality of life nor disability measured after 1 year. The positive effects found at 6 months in both groups, remained at 1-year follow-up.
The results suggest that a thorough clinical consultation, with focus on explaining the cause of pain and instructions to stay active, can promote long-lasting physical and mental health in individuals with LBP. Therefore, additional occupational interventions could focus on altering occupational obstacles on a structural level.
Level of Evidence: 2