Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 507–524 | Cite as

Prevention of Work Disability Due to Musculoskeletal Disorders: The Challenge of Implementing Evidence

  • Patrick LoiselEmail author
  • Rachelle Buchbinder
  • Rowland Hazard
  • Robert Keller
  • Inger Scheel
  • Maurits van Tulder
  • Barbara Webster


Background: The process of returning disabled workers to work presents numerous challenges. In spite of the growing evidence regarding work disability prevention, little uptake of this evidence has been observed. One reason for limited dissemination of evidence is the complexity of the problem, as it is subject to multiple legal, administrative, social, political, and cultural challenges. Purpose and methods: A literature review and collection of experts' opinion is presented, on the current evidence for work disability prevention, and barriers to evidence implementation. Recommendations are presented for enhancing implementation of research results. Conclusion: The current evidence regarding work disability prevention shows that some clinical interventions (advice to return to modified work and graded activity programs) and some non-clinical interventions (at a service and policy/community level but not at a practice level) are effective in reducing work absenteeism. Implementation of evidence in work disability is a major challenge because intervention recommendations are often imprecise and not yet practical for immediate use, many barriers exist, and many stakeholders are involved. Future studies should involve all relevant stakeholders and aim at developing new strategies that are effective, efficient, and have a potential for successful implementation. These studies should be based upon a clearer conceptualization of the broader context and inter-relationships that determine return to work outcomes.

Key Words

work disability occupational health health plan implementation evidence-based medicine intervention studies 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick Loisel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rachelle Buchbinder
    • 2
    • 3
  • Rowland Hazard
    • 4
  • Robert Keller
    • 5
  • Inger Scheel
    • 6
  • Maurits van Tulder
    • 7
    • 8
  • Barbara Webster
    • 9
  1. 1.Disability Prevention Research and Training CenterUniversité de SherbrookeLongueuilCanada
  2. 2.Monash Department of Clinical Epidemiology at Cabrini HospitalMalvern VictoriaAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Epidemiology and Preventive MedicineMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.Departments of Orthopaedics and MedicineDartmouth Medical SchoolLebanonUSA
  5. 5.Maine Medical Assessment FoundationAugustaUSA
  6. 6.The Norwegian Back Pain NetworkUllevål University HospitalOsloNorway
  7. 7.Institute for Research in Extramural MedicineVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  8. 8.Institute for Health SciencesFree UniversityAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  9. 9.Liberty Mutual Research Institute for SafetyCenter for Disability ResearchHopkintonUSA

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