OBJECTIVES: The aim was to evaluate the efficacy of 'Tailored Physical Activity' (TPA) and a 'Chronic Pain Self-management Programme' (CPSMP) compared with a reference group (REF) on return to work after 3 months as sick-listed citizens with pain related to the back or the upper body.
METHODS: Using a randomised controlled trial design all participants (n= 141) received health guidance for 1.5 hours and were randomised to TPA, CPSMP or REF. Characteristics of participants were collected from a questionnaire. The primary endpoint was proportion of participants returned to work as registered by the municipality and the co-primary endpoint was duration of the sickness absence period. Secondary outcomes consisted of pain, body mass index, aerobic capacity, grip strength, work ability and kinesiophobia. The trial was conducted in Sonderborg Municipality from March 2011 to October 2013.
RESULTS: TPA was more effective on return to work than REF, while CPSMP only tended to be more effective than REF, and the primary outcome was the only between-groups significant difference. TPA participants also reached a highly significant reduction in pain from baseline to follow-up with no similar effect seen in CPSMP or REF. In contrast, no benefit of TPA and CPSMP was evident regarding work ability, kinesiophobia or physical capacity after 3 months of follow-up.
CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that TPA is a promising intervention to facilitate return to work and reduce pain among sick-listed citizens with pain related to the back or upper body compared to REF.