Return to Work in Patients with Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain: Multidisciplinary Intervention Versus Brief Intervention

A Randomized Clinical Trial
Objective: This randomized clinical trial was performed to compare the effect of a new multidisciplinary intervention (MI) programme to a brief intervention (BI) programme on return to work (RTW), fully and partly, at a 12-month and 24-month follow-up in patients on long-term sick leave due to musculoskeletal pain. Methods: Patients (n = 284, mean age 41.3 years, 53.9 % women) who were sick-listed with musculoskeletal pain and referred to a specialist clinic in physical rehabilitation were randomized to MI (n = 141) or BI (n = 143). The MI included the use of a visual educational tool, which facilitated patient-therapist communication and self-management. The MI also applied one more profession, more therapist time and a comprehensive focus on the psychosocial factors, particularly the working conditions, compared to a BI. The main features of the latter are a thorough medical, educational examination, a brief cognitive assessment based on the non-injury model, and a recommendation to return to normal activity as soon as possible. Results: The number of patients with full-time RTW developed similarly in the two groups. The patients receiving MI had a higher probability to partly RTW during the first 7  months of the follow-up compared to the BI-group. Conclusions: There were no differences between the groups on full-time RTW during the 24 months. However, the results indicate that MI hastens the return to work process in long-term sick leave through the increased use of partial sick leave.

Source: Brendbekken, R., Eriksen, H. R., Grasdal, A., Harris, A., Hagen, E. M., & Tangen, T. (20176). Journal of occupational rehabilitation, 27(1), 82-91.

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