Purpose Our objective was to develop a clinical prediction model to identify workers with sustainable employment following an episode of work-related low back pain (LBP). Methods We used data from a cohort study of injured workers with incident LBP claims in the USA to predict employment patterns 1 and 6 months following a workers’ compensation claim. We developed three sequential models to determine the contribution of three domains of variables: (1) basic demographic/clinical variables; (2) health-related variables; and (3) work-related factors. Multivariable logistic regression was used to develop the predictive models. We constructed receiver operator curves and used the c-index to measure predictive accuracy. Results Seventy-nine percent and 77 % of workers had sustainable employment at 1 and 6 months, respectively. Sustainable employment at 1 month was predicted by initial back pain intensity, mental health-related quality of life, claim litigation and employer type (c-index = 0.77). At 6 months, sustainable employment was predicted by physical and mental health-related quality of life, claim litigation and employer type (c-index = 0.77). Adding health-related and work-related variables to models improved predictive accuracy by 8.5 and 10 % at 1 and 6 months respectively. Conclusion We developed clinically-relevant models to predict sustainable employment in injured workers who made a workers’ compensation claim for LBP. Inquiring about back pain intensity, physical and mental health-related quality of life, claim litigation and employer type may be beneficial in developing programs of care. Our models need to be validated in other populations.
- Back injuries
- Return to work