Functional Capacity Evaluation Performance Does Not Predict Sustained Return to Work in Claimants With Chronic Back Pain
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Objectives: Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) is used to determine return-to-work readiness. We investigated the ability of the Isernhagen Work Systems’ FCE to predict sustained return-to-work and future pain and disability in workers’ compensation claimants with chronic back pain. Methods: Prospective study of 130 claimants undergoing FCE for chronic back problems. FCE indicators included number of failed tasks and floor-to-waist lift weight. Recovery indicators included days to suspension of time-loss benefits and future recurrence. Subjects were contacted after one year to determine pain intensity and disability. Analysis included Cox and logistic regression. Results: Fewer failed tasks (HRR 0.94 (0.91–0.98) and higher floor-to-waist lift (HRR 1.38 (1.17–1.62) were associated with faster return-to-work. FCE was not associated with future recurrence, or reported pain intensity, or disability in subjects reached for follow-up. Conclusions: Better FCE performance was mildly associated with indicators of faster return-to-work. However, FCE is not related to recurrent back problems, future pain intensity, or self-reported disability.
Keywordspredictive validity functional capacity evaluation return-to-work recurrence performance-based compensation survival analysis
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