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250 How the working backs programme helped staff manage back pain, remain in work and reduce absenteeism
  1. Bulfin Siobhan,
  2. Tuohy Niamh,
  3. A Purcell,
  4. A O’Reilly
  1. St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland


Introduction The Working Backs Programme (WBP) is designed for staff reporting back pain as a result of work or whose work performance is affected. It’s a comprehensive approach including medical assessment, provision of information and education, a designated physiotherapy and ergonomic staff referral service and a referral pathway for further investigations and/or review. The effectiveness was evaluated by an initial audit in 2012 and subsequent audits in 2015 and 2016.

Methods Data was collected through questionnaires at initial consultation and post discharge for comparison. This included the quantitative tools: Patient Specific Functional Score (PSFS) self-reporting of functional ability to complete tasks and the Numerical Pain Rating Scale (NPRS) self-rating of pain score. A cross–sectional analysis of absenteeism rates was also performed to determine the percentage of WBP participants with certified absence and work hours lost for back pain.

Result In 2012, 75% of participants found the WBP beneficial. This figure rose to 96% and 94% in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

In 2012, 52% of participants achieved a 2 point increase or greater for their average score in the PSFS. In 2015 and 2016 it was 88% and 72% respectively. A 2 point change for the average score is valid to be 90% confident that a real improvement occurred.

In 2012 66% reported a reduction in pain levels on the NPRS. In 2015 and 2016 this increased to 96% and 92%, respectively.

In 2012, 52% of the WBP participants had some certified leave of absence for back pain. This decreased to 21% in 2015 and to 12% in 2016.

Work hours lost for back pain in 2012 was 2.5% of the total percent of absenteeism. This decreased in 2015 and in 2016 to 0.4% and 0.6% respectively (a reduction of 76% in back related absence in a four year period).

Discussion The WBP demonstrated both personal and organisational benefits. It has proven to be a worthwhile health promotion initiative. It’s ethos is based on an active approach in the management of back pain, enabling staff to remain at work while effectively managing back pain.

  • Occupational Health
  • Back Pain
  • Absenteeism

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