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Workplace interventions
  1. L A M Elders,
  2. A Burdorf
  1. Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr L A M Elders
 Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, Department of Public Health, PO Box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, Netherlands;

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Do they matter in return to work after absenteeism because of low back pain?

Low back pain is a common health condition in working populations. Considering the lifetime prevalence of 60–85%, it will eventually affect almost everyone in life, men and women equally. In the majority of patients low back pain is a self-limiting condition, from which 90% of all patients are expected to recover in about six weeks. Hence, it has been suggested that prevention should focus more on preventing disability resulting from low back pain than on preventing the onset of back pain.1 As a result, duration of sickness absence is increasingly being used as a health parameter of interest to study the consequences of disability in occupational groups and to evaluate the effectiveness of intervention. Workers remaining off work after 2–3 months are responsible for the majority of the associated health care costs and have a substantial risk for long term disability.1 Thus, identifying those workers on sickness absence who are at risk for a longer period of sickness absence is essential for intervention purposes.

In the past decades it has been well documented that physical load caused by lifting, awkward back postures, and whole body vibration is a risk factor for the onset and recurrence of low back pain. In the past 10 years the focus in aetiological research has slowly shifted from physical towards psychosocial and individual risk factors. It seems that psychosocial stress, for example, …

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