Objectives To evaluate the ability of a short-form FCE to predict future timely and sustained return-to-work. Methods A prospective cohort study was conducted using data collected during a cluster RCT. Subject performance on the items in the short-form FCE was compared to administrative recovery outcomes from a workers’ compensation database. Outcomes included days to claim closure, days to time loss benefit suspension and future recurrence (defined as re-opening a closed claim, restarting benefits, or filing a new claim for injury to the same body region). Analysis included multivariable Cox and logistic regression using a risk factor modeling strategy. Potential confounders included age, sex, injury duration, and job attachment status, among others. Results The sample included 147 compensation claimants with a variety of musculoskeletal injuries. Subjects who demonstrated job demand levels on all FCE items were more likely to have their claims closed (adjusted Hazard Ratio 5.52 (95% Confidence Interval 3.42–8.89), and benefits suspended (adjusted Hazard Ratio 5.45 (95% Confidence Interval 2.73–10.85) over the follow-up year. The proportion of variance explained by the FCE ranged from 18 to 27%. FCE performance was not significantly associated with future recurrence. Conclusion A short-form FCE appears to provide useful information for predicting time to recovery as measured through administrative outcomes, but not injury recurrence. The short-form FCE may be an efficient option for clinicians using FCE in the management of injured workers.
Functional capacity evaluationPredictive validityTime to recoveryReturn to workRecurrenceCompensation