The utility of Functional Capacity Evaluation: the opinion of physicians and other experts in the field of return to work and disability claims

  • Haije Wind
  • Vincent Gouttebarge
  • P. Paul F. M. Kuijer
  • Judith K. Sluiter
  • Monique H. W. Frings-Dresen
Original Article


Objectives: This qualitative study explored how Dutch experts perceive the utility of functional capacity evaluation (FCE) for return to work (RTW) and disability claim (DC) assessment purposes. Methods: Twenty-one RTW case managers and 29 DC experts were interviewed by telephone using a semi-structured interview schedule. Results: The RTW case managers valued the utility of FCE on a scale of 0–10. Their mean valuation was 6.5 (SD 1.5). The average valuation for DC experts was 4.8 (SD 2.2). Arguments in favor of FCE were (1) its ability to confirm own opinions and (2) the objectivity of its measurement method. Arguments against FCE were (1) the redundancy of the information it provides and (2) the lack of objectivity. Indications for FCE were musculoskeletal disorders, a positive patient self-perception of ability to work, and the presence of an actual job. Contraindications for FCE were medically unexplained disorders, a negative patient self-perception of ability to work, and the existence of disputes and legal procedures. Conclusions: The responding RTW case managers perceived FCE to be more useful than the responding DC experts. The question of whether the arguments presented for and against the utility of FCE are valid is one that should be addressed in a future study.


Functional capacity evaluation FCE Utility Return to work Disability claim 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Haije Wind
    • 1
  • Vincent Gouttebarge
    • 1
  • P. Paul F. M. Kuijer
    • 1
  • Judith K. Sluiter
    • 1
  • Monique H. W. Frings-Dresen
    • 1
  1. 1.Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Coronel Institute of Occupational HealthAmCOGG: Amsterdam Center for Research into Health and Health CareAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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